Livie Mauger enjoys volunteering for Buddy Up Tennis, and she takes the buddy aspect to heart.
The junior on the Olentangy Orange High School girls tennis team has been a part of Buddy Up, an adaptive tennis and fitness program for individuals with Down syndrome, since she was in eighth grade. She spends a couple of hours on available Saturdays at Wickertree Tennis Club, working with athletes ranging in age from 5 to 50.
Mauger, who also has gotten many of her teammates involved in the program, often winds up wearing a name tag with "David" written on it. It's a symbol of the friendships that she develops through the program.
"(The name tag) was given to me by David Sutton, who puts it on me every time after we're done," Mauger said of the athlete from Reynoldsburg. "You get close to athletes over the years.
"I was doing a tennis clinic at Wickertree and I would get here right as Buddy Up was ending. I would see them playing 'duck, duck, goose' at the end each week and they looked like everyone was having so much fun. I really wanted to (volunteer), so I contacted coach Doug (DiRosario) and got started."
Buddy Up Tennis was started in 2008 by New Albany resident Beth Gibson, who was looking for a place for her 3 1/2-year-old son, Will, to learn tennis. Nine years later, there are six Ohio locations and 19 overall in nine states.
Wickertree is at 5760 Maple Canyon Ave. in Columbus.
"I founded Buddy Up Tennis when we were looking to teach Will how to play tennis and there were no resources out there for that," said Gibson, who is the director of the program. "It was a big need in the Down syndrome community with our 'athletes,' as we call them. Not a lot of the (athletic) programs were structured or organized. We wanted that and also for him to have fun. We wanted our 'buddies' to have one-on-one relationships with the athletes."
The program starts with a 30-minute warmup, with activities meant to stretch muscles, before 60 minutes of tennis workouts.
"(The athletes) are always happy and they don't get frustrated when they miss the ball or mess up," Orange freshman Caroline Sproule said. "They keep on trying again and again. I think I can use that when I play (tennis) and during school."
Pioneers coach Susan Storrer said the sessions are good for her team, which was 15-2 before playing Liberty on Oct. 3 in a district semifinal of the OTCA team tournament.
"They are learning a lot of patience," said Storrer, whose team defeated Upper Arlington 3-2 on Sept. 25 to reach the semifinal. "It gives them an exposure to the challenges these kids have. I think it makes them more appreciative of their own lives and what they have."
Sophomore Kortney Reed loves helping out.
"The kids here make me happy and make me want to try harder," she said. "Just seeing them trying their best is a big help for me when I'm on the tennis court."
The tennis portion of Buddy Up includes drills to help hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
"After I'm done I feel like I'm a better person, and it's so much fun to help out," sophomore Hannah Logan said. "It makes me happy to be able to help others."
Mauger isn't the only buddy in her household. Her freshman sister, Julia, also volunteers.
"I heard great things from my sister," Julia Mauger said. "(The athletes) are all so happy and want to learn. It's great to be able to work with them."
Livie Mauger said the program also has helped her to take a new perspective on everyday life.
"I think I really learn a lot about myself, too," she said. "You come to Buddy Up and all of these athletes are in the present; they are in the moment. They are not thinking about anything else. They are just focused on you, and they genuinely are happy to see you. I come in and I can forget about school or anything else that's going on with my life, and I can just be with them and have fun."
for golf teams
The defending Division I state champion girls golf team opened its postseason by playing in a sectional tournament Oct. 3 at Royal American.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Cooks Creek. At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on those teams advance to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
The boys team played in a Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Turnberry, with the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advancing to district Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Apple Valley.
At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 7 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Hilliard Lynx
Oct. 11 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Oct. 10 -- At Westerville North
Oct. 5 -- Home vs. Thomas Worth-ington
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. North
Oct. 5, 7 -- Division I sectional at Reynoldsburg. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 12 at Hilliard Bradley and Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington.
*Oct. 5 -- At Olentangy. The Pioneers defeated the Braves 25-12, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20 on Sept. 14.
Oct. 9 -- Home vs. DeSales
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. North. The Pioneers defeated the Warriors 25-12, 25-16, 25-12 on Sept. 19.