San Antonio - It is an understatement that Hurricane Harvey has caused a great deal of destruction and heartache along the Texas Gulf Coast, but Trinity's athletics teams have tried to do their part to help those in need.
A number of Tiger teams stepped forward to alleviate some of the suffering by donating time, manpower, clothing, and initiating fundraising efforts. One such group was the Tiger men’s tennis team, which headed to Aransas Pass, Texas.
“Our primary objective was brush and tree clearing at homes,” said men’s tennis Head Coach Russell McMindes. “There was not a piece of property in Aransas Pass that wasn’t hit.”
The Tiger team was part of an effort launched by San Antonio’s River City Community Church, of which Coach McMindes is a member. Sixteen players and coaches loaded up a van, donated by the University, at 4:15 a.m. on Saturday, September 2, in front of the William H. Bell Athletic Center. Following the 165-mile journey, the stalwart group began the task of bringing some relief to the area.
Coach McMindes said the clearing effort was a formidable task, as many trees were down, roots and all. A number of trees had fallen on homes, but the Tigers and other volunteers stayed focused on their mission.
“The trip itself wasn’t about us,” Coach McMindes said. “It was trying to offer aid and assistance to the residents who were desperate. It was an eye-opening experience. There were swarms of mosquitoes. As hard as that day was from a labor standpoint, we got to go home. Those residents are living in it.”
Assistant Coach George Rivers is from Tomball, Texas, located in the Houston Metropolitan Area. Over the years, he has “ridden out” some hurricanes, and is aware how much people depend on each other in those circumstances.
“I knew the position those people were in, and how frustrating it is,” Coach Rivers said. “There was a lot of damage, and there is only so much you can do by yourself.”
Quin Patterson, Trinity’s Athletics Equipment Manager, took the lead on the donation of sports apparel. Head women’s basketball Coach Cameron Hill, and assistant men’s Coach Ross Burt took shirts and sweats to Patterson and asked they be sent to the University of Houston. They answered the call of Houston men’s basketball Coach Kelvin Sampson, requesting aid from coaches around the nation in the relief effort.
Patterson had been working on his own box, consisting of packing clothing in storage. A variety of items from numerous sports were sent to the University of Houston Athletic Equipment Room. A number of coaches and sports were involved in the donation process.
“It was a total team effort,” Patterson said. “Coaches are reaching out to their friends in the community. Obviously, the people in Houston needed the items more than we did.”
Tiger volleyball conducted a relief activity at the Trinity National Invitational September 1-2. Outside of Calgaard Gymnasium, a donation station was set up for the Texas Diaper Bank and San Antonio Food Bank. Concerned fans donated diapers, baby formula and shampoo, along with non-perishable food items.
Inside the gym, cash donations were accepted which were earmarked for the Greater Houston Community Foundation. The volleyball team was busy, of course, so they received collection assistance from other student-athletes. Assistant volleyball Aly Lilley said over $500 was raised for the worthy cause.
Coach Lilley hails from Beach City, Texas, near Baytown, on the Gulf Coast. She knew hundreds of people who were affected by the hurricane directly, and was proud of Trinity’s student-athlete community.
“Our student-athletes were willing to move things around in their schedules to help,” Coach Lilley said. “We put it together in a 24-hour period. They step up when they need to, and work hard to support communities related, and not related, to our student body.”
The Trinity women’s golf team devised a creative fundraising drive titled “Holeing Out for Harvey.” They are asking for pledges for each of the birdies (1-under-par) the Tigers make at their three fall tournaments. The first event starts September 11, and the final tournament ends October 17.
The funds will be sent to folks in Rockport, Texas, an area hit especially hard by Harvey. Director of Golf and women’s Coach Carla Spenkoch has visited Rockport often, and knows of a family forced to sleep in a car because of severe damages caused by the hurricane.
Regardless of the method, Trinity’s student-athletes, coaches, and staff have risen to the task of helping people in need.