June 2, 2010
Between being a full-time student, practicing 20 hours a week and serving as a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Tennessee swimmer Chris Winchell amazingly still finds the time to reach out to his community.
Earlier this year, his contributions to the UT and Knoxville communities were recognized when he was named to the SEC Community Service team--an honor given to just a few athletes from their respective sports each year.
"That honor meant a lot because it means I'm making an impact on my team," Winchell said. "But I've also made an impact throughout the community, and the things I try and do to be a leader outside the pool are being seen by other people."
Winchell's contributions have created a big splash in the Knoxville community since he arrived on The Hill in 2007. He participated in a fundraiser for Saving Little Hearts, where he played miniature golf with children to raise money for kids with heart disease.
He also spent time passing out hot chocolate to UT students on a cold day to develop relationships between students and student-athletes. But his favorite activity was serving as the swimming and diving team's organizer for Toys for Tots, a program that helps buy Christmas presents for underprivileged youth in Knoxville.
"I liked having the opportunity to go out and buy gifts for someone who wouldn't otherwise have them," Winchell said. "Then I got to give them the gifts and see the look on their face when they opened them and they got what they wanted.
"Just to see the look of appreciation and love that they had was probably my favorite opportunity."
Winchell credits his faith for giving him more heart for other people than Hallmark does on Valentine's Day. He invests countless hours in UT's chapter of FCA, meeting with members on a weekly basis to help them become spiritual and community leaders.
"I love knowing that I make an impact in someone else's life," Winchell said. "To have the opportunity to use Christ to reach out to other people, help other people grow closer to him and have a closer relationship with him is what drives me."
In the end, Winchell may have a few swimmers ahead of him, but he always has a grateful community behind him.