TGW: Giving Their All

Dec. 6, 2015

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

T’was the week before finals and Georgia Tech all
Had mostly become one big study hall…
While most Jackets teams hung up unis those days
The Softball team still had games to play.

There was pizza and candy and presents galore
Video games, dancing and, oh, so much more
But there wasn’t team benefit Coach [Shelly] Hoerner said with impunity.
This was for the benefit of those in the community.

“My big thing is it’s better to give than to receive and [Monday] night was so humbling,” said Hoerner of the pizza party/Christmas event the team threw for a local family. “Throughout my coaching career we’ve always done things at Thanksgiving, Christmas, we’ve always given something to families, adopted families, but we’ve never met those families per se. This time, to be able to have the families at our field, have a pizza party with them, it just puts life in more perspective than it has before.”

The family was four children, aged 10 through two
A girl and three boys, who’d make 20-plus friends new
Tristan and brothers Gavin, Aubrey and Martavious
Would hang out and enjoy pizza of various flavious

Martavious, the eldest, came to Trunk Or Treat
His mom had such fun, she thought the team was quite neat
So she Facebook-friended Assistant Coach Erin Wright
That gave Coach the idea for this super-fun night

“When I met her at Trunk Or Treat she was so sweet and was just all about her kids and wanted them to have the best time,” Wright recalled. “She was just an extremely sweet woman that we wanted to help.

“I contacted Horizons the group on campus for summer programs for children in the area and they came to our Trunk Or Treat — a mother with one child in the program and also three foster children attended,” she added. “I reached out to the Horizons director to see if they would be in need of some Christmas cheer! We set up the pizza party and giving of gifts.”

Mother and foursome came to Mewborn Field
Not knowing the extent of their upcoming yield
The kids’ reward was pizza and opening gifts
The team was rewarded seeing the kids’ spirits lift

Dance, Tristan! Dance, Gavin! Dance, Aubrey! Dance, Marty!
The night was all theirs and they were ready to party
The hit of the night was Dance Dance Revolution
In downtime, Gavin found eating the cards a solution

An evening that began getting to know one another
Became one of great fun for team, kids and mother
The feeling of joy was something to see
Especially with all gathered dancing ‘round the Wii

“It was just really great being able to put smiles on all the kids faces because we all take for granted what we have here at Tech,” said sophomore OF/IF Malea Bell, who remembered 10-year-old Martavious from Trunk Or Treat. “It was just a really cool experience. I’m so happy that Coach found them. They were able to put smiles on our faces.”

“The little kids, just seeing the smiles on their faces, was really cool to see,” said sophomore shortstop Kelsey Chisholm. “We started off the night playing Dance Dance Revolution. We had a few girls rotating in and they were trying to make a little competition out of it. Of course, we went to the gifts part of it and they were just unwrapping the presents so fast, they were so excited to see all their presents. The best part about it was seeing how happy they were and the smile never left any of their faces the entire night. That was really rewarding to see.

“This particular event really made me realize it’s not about me,” Chisholm added. “It’s more about other people around you and spending time with them and enjoying each other’s company. Monday’s event was nice to reach out to people in the community and get to know them and spend time with them. Overall, It was a great night for everyone.”

For hours the fun just went on and on
They probably would have liked to go until dawn
But eventually bedtime for the kids arrived
And the players had to go back to student-athlete lives

Come, Marty! Come, Tristan! Come, Aubrey! Come Gavin!
So tough to leave with the good time all were havin’
Alas, all good things must come to an end
So the team said sad ‘‘bye for now’ to their newly found friends

But what a night to remember for the kids and the team
A night the kids surely re-lived in that night’s dream
In a world so often filled with sadness and panic
This event was so joyous and completely organic

“We did it in very little time and it worked out wonderfully,” said Hoerner. “This, by far, was one of the top community service events that I’ve done over all of my years in coaching and I’ve done quite a few. Seeing those kids, how fortunate we are and being able to give, just makes life so worthwhile.

“Our team, what they told me afterward, it was the most impactful community service event they’ve been a part of, too,” she added. “I think the team understands how important community service is and being able to give back yet they saw the dividends of how happy they made these kids.”

Softball’s giving back didn’t end on Monday
At the end of the week there’d be another fun day
After four days of studying they could again let off steam
This time by being part of another special team

This time kickball was the name of the game
Helping kids in need again although not quite the same
Benefitting kids that endure battles with cancer
Joining GTCCF (Georgia Tech Christian Campus Fellowship) was just the right answer

“This weekend, CCF is putting on a kickball game for kids who have been affected by cancer and we’re helping out,” said Bell. “It’s just great to be a part of a team that goes to all these community service events and helps out other kids who need help. I want to give back to our community. I want to see what else we can do. Our team does a lot of community service events I feel like it changes you as a person because you realize how much you can affect other people’s lives.”

“We did it last year so I have a little bit of experience with it,” said Chisholm. “It was such a great event just to be able to, like I said with the kids from [Monday] night, to be able to hang out with people from the Atlanta area.

“This one is going to be a little bit different because these are little kids that have cancer, so their lives are a little bit different than ours and the little kids that we were spending time with Monday night,” she added. “When we’re playing kickball with them, just to see how much passion and how much fun they have with everything they do, It’s really inspiring. They don’t let their disease stop them from doing anything. So it’s really inspiring for us because we have workouts, we have hard schedules, but it makes us realize the big picture, that we could have it a lot worse, and it just makes us really grateful for what we do have and not to take advantage of the things that we have.”

Come Monday morning the weekend will be gone
The parties will be over it’s time to move on
It’s back to the hard work of studying and grinding
Taking exams and good grades on their minding

But what they’ve done and will do for the kids
Will keep them from flipping their exam-taking lids
And while that may not make finals easier to take
It’s nice to know in their hearts what a difference they can make

“Especially in today’s society, where there is so much bad going on around the world, it’s just nice to know that there’s people out there that really do care about others,” said Hoerner. “Our team went above and beyond to make their night. I was really, really proud of the team, besides all the gifts that the team gave them, playing hide-and-go-seek with them and making them laugh and dancing with them, that meant the world to me and it was very humbling.”

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