University of Oklahoma graduate Whitney Hand was named to the Inaugural Allstate WBCA Division I Good Works Team, announced by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Tuesday.
The 2013 Allstate WBCA Good Works Team is composed of college women's basketball student-athletes who make outstanding contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement. These individuals embody the true spirit of "teamwork" and "giving back" through commendable acts of kindness.
"I am so honored to be part of the Good Works Team," Hand said. "I didn't really even know I was eligible. I was shocked and so flattered because our whole team does so much."
"Coach Coale really makes an effort to get us involved in the community and I've benefitted from that. I've gotten to see what that does in the community, within our team. It strengthens our bond and it strengthens our bond within the community. I'm really blessed to be part of a program that really accentuates that effort."
Hand, who suffered a career-ending ACL injury in December, was a catalyst for expanding the group of OU student-athletes and staff who visit the Mission of Hope in Haiti annually each May and, as a four-time team captain, has led her team's annual community service initiatives. This year, the Sooners partnered with the Center for Children and Families, Inc., and have visited at least once each month during the season providing help where needed.
"I think Whitney's influence," OU head coach Sherri Coale said, "not only on this campus, in terms of starting this humanitarian outreach that we have here, has influenced beyond the University of Oklahoma. I know I get a lot of questions on the road about the things we do as a team. I think her leadership, in that regard, has ignited quite a movement, really, across the country."
Other recent annual partnerships Hand has taken part in her time at OU include Able Bodies Learning to Excel (ABLE), which provides resources for individuals with developmental disabilities to acquire self-sufficient living abilities and marketable work skills; the Mary Abbott Children's House child abuse resource center; and Meals on Wheels. She is also a regular visitor to patients at the Jimmy Everest Center for Children for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children at the OU Children's Hospital
Additionally, Hand and OU women's basketball players individually spend at least one morning each week with a local elementary school class as part of the team's Sooner Big Sis program, acting as a teacher's assistant, friend and role model for the classroom.
Joining Hand on the five-member Division I team were Auburn senior Blanche Alverson, Brown University senior Caroline King, Purdue graduate Drey Mingo and Penn State senior Gizelle Studevent.
"Whitney Hand is a real live hero on our campus and in our community," OU campus FCA Director Kent Bowles said. "Her personal faith and character off the court matches her competitiveness and drive on the court and classroom. She is determined to live boldly so that others may be blessed by her talent.
"This leadership has helped change the hearts and actions of many of our very own athletes at the University of Oklahoma. Giving and caring has become 'popular' because of one young lady's stand for personal faith and the well-being of others."
Hand joined former OU football players Jacob Gutierrez (2006), Nic Harris (2007), Gerald McCoy (2008) and Quinton Carter (2010) as Sooners named to national Good Works Teams.