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Nov. 27, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Gamecock junior libero Paige Wheeler garnered a spot on the 2012 Southeastern Conference Volleyball Community Service Team, the league announced today.

Over the past few years, Wheeler has been one of the team leaders in community service. This year, she volunteered at both the university’s positional and elite skills volleyball camps, where she assisted with teaching fundamental to campers. She also was involved with the fall sports “Fan Appreciation Day”, where she spent time talking to fans and signing autographs. Most recently, Wheeler, along with her teammates, devoted part of her Thanksgiving to visiting patients at the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. Last season Paige was involved with a wide variety of events, as well, including Bingo Night at the Christopher Towers senior living facility, the university’s MLK Jr. Day of Service initiative, the Ronald McDonald House “Red Nosed Run”, Dance Marathon, a sports camp organized by the City of Columbia, the “Light the Night” Walk and the “Boy Scouts Day” sports clinic. Wheeler is a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and twice gained the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award.

The SEC sponsors Community Service Teams for all 20 league sponsored sports. The Community Service Team looks to highlight an athlete from each school who gives back to their community in superior service efforts. The rest of the ninth-annual women’s volleyball Community Service Team follows:

Kayla Fitterer, Senior, Outside Hitter, Alabama
Fitterer has served on the Alabama Student Athlete Advisory Committee since 2010. She participates in the UA Women’s Initiative Program and visited with cancer patients at the Manderson Cancer Center at DCH. Fitterer also participated in the UA Halloween Extravaganza all four years. She has also helped with the University’s Project Angel Tree and Habitat for Humanity projects. Fitterer has been one of the top players for the Alabama women’s volleyball team the past three years, leading the team in kills in 2010, 2011 and 2012, while finishing second and third, respectively, in the Southeastern Conference in kills in 2010 and 2011. She is a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree (2009-11) and was named a Commerce and Business Administration Scholastic Athlete in 2010. Fitterer received the Scholastic Excellence in Marketing award in 2012.

Hayley Koop, Junior, Outside Hitter, Arkansas
Koop has organized the Razorbacks’ community service efforts this season, planning service trips every Monday to local elementary schools, animal shelter, veteran’s hospital and Fayetteville High School. She helped the team total 100 community service hours in October. During the spring, Koop and the Razorbacks hosted a Special Olympics volleyball clinic for the second straight year and later participated in the organization’s Area 3 Games. Arkansas volleyball also paired with national organization Feed My Starving Children to help pack meals for those in need. Koop carries a 3.36 cumulative grade-point average as an art major at Arkansas.

MacKenzy Harper, Senior, Defensive Specialist, Auburn
Harper’s community service projects include working with Toys for Tots, Salvation Army, Adopt-a-Mile Clean-up and Run-to-Read Fundraiser. She has helped with two food drives for East Alabama Food Bank and Lebanon Food Pantry and spent three days in Paducah, Ky., in 2011 assisting with flood relief. Harper also participated in the Deloitte Alternative Spring Break, spending a week at South Atlanta High School.

Betsy Smith, Senior, Middle Blocker, Florida
Smith’s community service projects include working with Baby Gators, Storybook Saturdays, Mebane Middle School, Shands Hospital, Shands Miracle Network, Buchholz High School Prime Time After School Program and Miracle on Main. She spearheaded Florida’s efforts in the SEC Together We CAN food drive last fall and is currently assisting with Gator Tracks, a program developed to provide children throughout Gainesville with new shoes. Smith has over 300 volunteer hours during her five years on campus.

Nicole Choi, Senior, Libero/Defensive Specialist, Georgia
Choi has participated in Georgia’s “Walk with the Dawgs to School” initiative that promotes walking to school instead of driving for exercise and is very active in SAAC community service events. She helped plan a SAAC event that assisted the elderly with early Christmas shopping and was recognized with the 2011 E.X.C.E.L. Award in the Grand Hall of the Tate Student Center at the Excellence in Education and Leadership Awards Ceremony. Sponsored by Intercultural Affairs, Department of Campus Life, the E.X.C.E.L. Awards honor junior and senior multicultural and international students who have maintained a standard of academic and extracurricular excellence in their college careers.

Jessi Greenberg, Junior, Defensive Specialist, Kentucky
Greenberg’s community service projects include serving as a volunteer cross country coach at Lexington’s Southern Middle School, working with Woodhill Neighborhood and volunteering with God’s Pantry, Read Across America, Salvation Army and the Fayette County Walk-a-Child-to-School program. She owns a 3.96 grade point average and is a two-time All-SEC Academic team member. Greenberg has served as a SAAC representative and was a summer intern with the American Volleyball Coaches Association. She has played in more than 85 matches in her career and has posted 130 or more digs in all three seasons as a defensive specialist for UK.

Madie Jones, Senior, Outside Hitter, LSU
Jones is involved with countless community service efforts, and her impact on the Baton Rouge community encompasses a very broad spectrum. She is an advocate for animals and spearheaded LSU volleyball’s senior class philanthropy project for the 2012 season to benefit the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society (CAAWS). At home matches, the Tigers have collected items to donate to the local animal shelter. Jones also serves as the president of LSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She championed and organized “The Mikie’s” in April 2012, an event which allowed student-athletes to showcase their talents through dances, skits and songs. The $1,000 raised in ticket revenue was donated to the Big Buddies Program. Other service projects Jones has been involved with include “Thanksgiving with the Tigers” where her team adopted an underprivileged child for the holidays. The Tigers provided the child with gifts at a special program, while serving a Thanksgiving style meal. Jones carries a 3.54 GPA as an Industrial Engineering major and is a three-time SEC Honor Roll recipient in addition to being the president of LSU’s Institute of Industrial Engineers.

Whitney Craven, Senior, Outside Hitter, Mississippi
Craven’s community service projects include participating in Habitat for Humanity where she helped build houses in Oxford and Jackson, Miss. over the summer, working with Reading with the Rebels, where she went to local elementary schools and read to students, and participating in Adopt-a-Basket, where she helped pack boxes of food for families and people in need. After the Xavier Invitational in early September, Craven donated her time at City Gospel in downtown Cincinnati, which is the home to a drug and alcohol recovery program. Craven and the Ole Miss volleyball team served breakfast from 6:30-7:30 a.m. and also talked with everyone and learned their stories. She also walked dogs at the Oxford Humane Society over the summer.

Chanelle Baker, Senior, Outside Hitter, Mississippi State
Baker has served as a volunteer during Special Olympics activities on campus and has participated in the MSU M-Club’s annual “Bully’s Book Blitz, encouraging the development of reading skills among local elementary school students. She has also participated in the program’s “Breakfast of Champions” kickoff event and joined other MSU athletes in signing autographs and visiting with patients at the Batson Children’s Hospital during the hospital’s “Bulldog Extravaganza” in Jackson, Miss. Baker assisted first-time MSU students in August moving into their on-campus housing as part of the MVNU2MSU volunteer program.

Jasmine Brown, Senior, Defensive Specialist, Tennessee
A social work major that aspires to make a positive impact on her community after graduating from the University of Tennessee, Brown has participated in multiple community service projects both with her team and without. Around the holidays, she has been involved in wrapping and delivering gifts to needy children. Brown also makes frequent visits to patients at the children’s hospital and participates in free volleyball clinics for community members. The senior also helped construct a home for ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover show in Knoxville. Recently, Brown interacted and entertained children at the athletic department’s inaugural Halloween Event for the local community and has been an annual participant in the “Boo at the Zoo” at the Knoxville Zoo.

Tori Mellinger, Senior, Outside Hitter, Texas A&M
Tori Mellinger has been a stellar representative of the Aggie volleyball team both on and off the court throughout her four-year collegiate career. The team captain has represented the volleyball team as a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for four years and served one year as the committee’s executive staff secretary. She has participated in numerous community service and campus activities as a member of Aggie Athletes Involved, including serving as a volunteer for the Aggies CAN annual food drive. She has welcomed and assisted new and returning Aggies to campus every year on Residence Hall Move-In Day and volunteered at various festivals and clinics, including the Junior Aggies Club Fall Festival and at the Lincoln Center, where she helped introduce the sport of volleyball to children. Mellinger has assisted at the Nothing But Nets Festival in an effort to help eradicate malaria from the continent of Africa. She also served as a volunteer at the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony, Film on the Field, and Hard Hats for Little Heads, encouraging child safety by giving away free bicycle helmets.