Lynchburg, Va. -- After spending the final week of their winter break preparing for the upcoming season, the University of Lynchburg men's and women's track & field teams turned their attention to the community.
Several members of the Hornets team trekked out to Lynchburg's Heritage Elementary School and Carl B. Hutcherson School to read to children and play with them in physical education classes.
"We threw ideas out over our training camp, just talking about how the team can do better," sophomore and Lynchburg native Julian Douglas said. "We want to be an asset to the community, and we came to the conclusion that we should do something in schools."
Douglas and several of his teammates participated in P.E. class with 4th- and 5th-graders at Heritage Elementary. The health and physical education major saw a glimpse of his future a bit, and he liked what he saw.
"It's always good with younger kids," Douglas said. "Anything we plan, they'll do. They won't get bored with it.
"Half the time, we were playing dodgeball," he added, and then laughed. "The other half was dance."
While Douglas and several of his teammates played in P.E., several of his teammates were inside reading books to other attentive elementary-schoolers.
At Hutcherson, other members of the Lynchburg teams took part in P.E. class with the school's younger students.
"It was nice to see the kids smile, and it makes you think about being a child, how you meet someone for the first time and just interact with them," sophomore Stephanie Burnett (Midlothian, Va.) said. "They just want someone to play with."
Burnett, an exercise physiology major, said she got lost in the playtime.
"You kind of forget that you're volunteering," she said. "I would do that again in a heartbeat. I wish we could do more things like that. Small things that can change a little kid's mind."
Douglas said he got to know teammates in a different way, too. Hornets from different training groups -- sprinters like himself mixed with throwers and distance runners in the service squads -- became more familiar with one another in the experience.
"It was a bonding with us while we were doing community service," Douglas said, "so it's kind of a win-win."
All in all, the Hornets learned a ton from the experience and felt like they did some good with the end of their winter break to boot.
"I'm glad that I did it, because one, that's my future, and two, this is my community," Douglas added.
"I'm from here, and it's good to give back to the community that brought you up."