Tennis isn’t the only game Bob van Overbeek excels at. He’s also great with a board, chips and a whole lot of luck.
Overbeek took his entire team, including head coach Andy Jackson, to an assisted living facility for a few hours of bingo with the residents.
This kind gesture is one of many for the sophomore who was named to the Southeastern Conference Community Service team April 19 for the second year in a row.
Not only did the sophomore earn the prestigious honor, he also played a pivotal role in the Gators winning their fourth-ever SEC title. The righty combined to go 7-1 in the SEC Tournament, with his only loss coming in singles play to Mississippi State.
All things tennis aside, Overbeek pointed to his parents as inspiring him to donate his time to the community.
“It’s an honor,” Overbeek said. “My parents, especially my mom, have always given back.”
Coming into UF last year, Overbeek was a highly ranked junior player. With arguably one of the most powerful serves in the conference, he had opportunities to take his talents to the next level in his career.
“He is a guy that a lot of agents try to get to turn pro,” Jackson said. “He made a conscious choice to be a student and try to be a part of the community. It shows how committed he is to doing things the right way.”
Overbeek is involved in various organizations on campus, such as the Goodwill Gators Community Outreach program, which gives athletes the chance to better their communities.
The sophomore realized that although his time is limited with tennis, it is a sacrifice he is willing to make.
“All they ask you to give is time, so whenever I do not have class I try to make it,” Overbeek said. “I was actually very surprised of how much an hour meeting with sick kids actually made their day. I feel like it is the least we can do.”
He’s not the only player on the team taking part in such outings. While describing the team bingo trip, he mentioned Sekou Bangoua Jr. as a frequent helper.
“I went with our entire team and coach Jackson to an elderly home to play bingo for two hours,” Ovebeek said. “Sekou is one of the people on the team that comes out the most and does stuff with me. Whenever he can, he joins me.”
With practice almost every day and tournaments such as the SEC championship calling for four matches in four days, it is understandable if the game takes up too much time.
Bangoura understood, though, that the community service keeps him grounded.
“You always need that reminder once in a while that there are a lot more things going on than tennis,” Bangoura said. “We are lucky to be healthy and get up every morning. We take that for granted.”
Jackson pointed out Overbeek has had a tough year due to arm tendonitis following the indoor season. While Overbeek returned to form this past weekend, it is his service work that his head coach said is a measure of his true character.
“It sets an example for [me],” Jackson said. “He got [me] by the arm a couple times and took [me] down to play bingo at a couple places. It is something he has helped me understand that yes we are going to try to win, but you should also have a little better perspective on things.”
After a productive SEC tournament in which he contributed to a historic Gator win, Overbeek wasn’t done showing off his talents to his head coach.
“He killed me at bingo,” Jackson said.
Gator Country reporter Adam Pincus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at adamDpincus.