NewsCovering Kentucky


University of Kentucky Women's Volleyball Team Welcomes Special Guest to Practice

The team welcomed 7-year-old Mallory Barnett
UK Women's Volleyball
Posted at 10:45 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 15:00:37-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Players on the University of Kentucky Women's Volleyball team welcomed a special guest to practice as part of a partnership with a new nonprofit, Team Inspire.

The nonprofit, founded by Lauren Dorris, partners children with a disability or critical illness with athletic teams.

UK's team welcomed 7-year-old Mallory Barnett, who has Down Syndrome, and her family to practice on Wednesday. The team gifted Mallory with a jersey, signed ball and poster. She also played a game of hide and seek with the team.

"It was so fun, her spirit was so high and I think a lot of us enjoyed having her around," said Lauren Tharp, a sophomore on the volleyball team.

The visit was special for Tharp, she said, because it aligns with her passion.

"My major is special education, so I've always had like a really soft spot in my heart for kids with special needs," she said, "and just to be able to include them and make them feel welcome in the community has just been a really big deal to me."

The team won the Southeastern Conference Championship last season, but is focused on more than just winning, Tharp said.

Dorris plans to continue the relationship with Mallory and the team by setting them up to attend a game soon.

More information on Team Inspire can be found at