Softball Trio Active in Community

Simone Heyward started the YANA (You Are Not Alone) project during the fall
Simone Heyward started the YANA (You Are Not Alone) project during the fall
Steve Franz
Matt Dunaway
Matt Dunaway

BATON ROUGE - LSU softball's A.J. Andrews, Jacee Blades, Allison Falcon and Simone Heyward recently spent time serving the Baton Rouge community.

Heyward started the YANA (You Are Not Alone) project during the fall. She began the organization composed of LSU student-athletes to help individuals cope with the loss of a loved one after she lost her mother to cancer.

Heyward met with children at MLK Christian during the fall and is now working with students at McKinley High School this semester with gymnast Ericka Garcia.

Heyward shares her experiences because she remembers how hard it was to initially cope with the loss of her mother during a pivotal time of her life. Her message emphasizes no matter what obstacles or what road blocks one may go through, one's future always has a chance to be bright.

"It was great speaking to high school students, seeing them interact and asking questions that were definitely worthwhile," Heyward said. "There were some kids really interested in our stories and how we got through our hardships. It was great to see the responses of both the classes we spoke to. I can't wait to make another visit to the school and hopefully to more high schools in the area this semester."

Andrews, Blades and Falcon met with a group of approximately 30 fifth graders from Jackson Elementary School and about 15 students from Rice University participating in an Alternative Service Break trip inside the Lawton Room earlier this week.

The group participated in an interactive scavenger hunt and toured the LSU campus. Afterwards, the trio spoke to the group about making academics their first priority. They took questions from the kids and shared tips on how to be successful in the classroom. 

"We all really love when we have the privilege to interact with children who are excited about their future like we were when we were kids," Blades said. "We were in their shoes before, and it's awesome to be able to answer any questions they have. Hopefully, we were able to make an impact on how important an education is for everybody."

"I was very excited to be able to speak to kids about the importance of putting education first," Falcon said. "It is a value that I try to live by and even try to instill in my own teammates. Being a student-athlete here is a privilege, and sharing my experiences is one that I really enjoy."

LSU concludes non-conference tournament play this weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic held in Orlando, Fla., where the Tigers will meet No. 10 Oregon, No. 14 Michigan, No. 15 Louisville, Penn State and Syracuse.




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