UCCS student-athletes visit hospital

By Doug Fitzgerald published April 7, 2006

Athletes that reach the intercollegiate level are accustomed to maximizing their physical abilities, or honing the mechanism, so to speak.

But there are many, particularly among the very young and the very old, for whom honing the mechanism takes a back seat to just getting it running properly. The student-athletes of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs took some time Friday to recognize some of those people by paying a visit to the Pediatric Patient Care Unit and the Rehab Unit of Memorial Hospital.

The visit was organized by Student Athlete Advisory Committee co-chair Brittni Carlson and included 25 Mountain Lion student-athletes, one coach and one Athletic Department administrator. Carlson, a farm girl from Erie, Colo. who stars for the UCCS softball team, felt the surge of purposefulness that often accompanies a good deed.

"What it does for me, and what I hope the other student-athletes get out of it, is a sense of pride "" an overwhelming feeling of joy," said Carlson. "I hope everybody realizes how important this is."

Laureen Murray couldn't agree more. A nurse on the pediatrics unit and a 1996 graduate of the Beth-El School of Nursing, said visits like this are very therapeutic for her young patients.

"It makes their day," said Murray. "It boosts their morale and makes them feel very special. You can feel the excitement. It helps with the healing process because happiness speeds healing."

The visit was also a nice respite for young patients whom circumstance has forced to spend too much of their childhood surrounded by sterile walls.

"It's nice for the kids to have something to distract them from everyday in the hospital," said Murray.

Patrick Simpson, a member of the men's basketball team, met one such youngster. He said the experience had a profound effect upon him.

"We just talked to a little boy who all he wants to do is play basketball and they don't know how much longer he'll be able to do that," said Simpson. "That makes you really stop and think about how lucky you are and appreciate where you're at."

For volleyball player Jill Wrenn, the experience was bittersweet.

"It feels good but it's sad at the same time," said Wrenn. "The ones we saw are going to be in here a while. I hope it shows them that there are people who care, especially people they look up to."

But Wrenn and teammate Lindsey Myers agreed that the sweet far outweighed the bitter.

"It makes you feel good to see them smile," said Myers.

The student-athletes also visited a number of older patients in the Rehab Unit. There, it was the patients who kept the visitors in stitches with jokes and anecdotes collected over the course of full and rewarding lives. Also apparent was a sober and frank assessment of human mortality.

"It gave me an appreciation for living for every day and being excited for what you can do that day," said Simpson.

I can't think of a better way to hone the mechanism.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Jill WrennJill Wrenn4RSSo.
Jill WrennJill Wrenn5OH/RSFr.
Jill WrennJill Wrenn5RS
Jill WrennJill Wrenn5RS
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32IFFr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson321BSo.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFJr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFSR.
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