Athletics community comes to aid Houston
The Arizona truck sits outside of Arizona Stadium after getting filled with donations for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The truck will follow the University of Houston football team back to Texas after the game on Saturday, Sept. 9.
Sometimes, football is bigger than just a game.
Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 will mark one of those times. Just over a week after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston, the University of Houston is preparing to play its first game of the 2017 season - 938 miles from home.
The university decided to postpone all of last week’s athletic events in the aftermath of the hurricane to allow students and community members to recover, meaning Houston would not be able to play its football season opener vs UTSA.
Prior to when the hurricane hit land, students evacuated the campus and city in order to seek shelter and make sure their families were safe. This past Thursday, those students returned to campus to find their city and school picking up the pieces after the disastrous flooding.
Houston head coach Major Applewhite personally checked with every player regarding their families, and as of Sunday, all players’ families were located and contacted, said athletics spokesman David Bassity according to the Daily Cougar.
“They gave us a lot of time, to talk to our families you know cause as players we understand that it’s bigger than football,” running back Dillon Birden told the Cougar.
Bassity explained that the program’s top priority over the last few weeks had nothing to do with football.
“Our coaching staff and administration made a promise that we were going to take care of their sons and get them to safety. A lot of families were appreciative of that,” Bassity said during a conference call between AAC coaches.
Once their personal lives were secure, the Cougars took action to aid the community. In just the last week, players have gathered donations and distributed them to those in need. From clothes, to food, to house supplies, the program has been been a helping hand to the city of Houston.
The University of Arizona is also doing its part to contribute to help Houston. UA athletic director Dave Heeke announced last week for Arizona to fill the football teams equipment truck with cleaning and hygiene supplies to be donated to those affected by Harvey. In less than three days the truck was filled and another one came in to replace it.
Now, a Houston football team made up of mostly 18-22 year-olds has to somehow focus their attention on a playing their first game in a matter of days.
Natural disasters in years past have united teams to reach out to communities. It united the New Orleans Saints when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, it united LSU in 2016 when mass flooding occurred and it seems to be uniting the Houston Cougars in 2017.
When the lights go on at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 9th, it will be for a football game between the Wildcats and the Cougars.
But the game will stand for much more. It will represent another way for the city and University of Houston to come together. Healing comes in many different forms, but for the state of Texas - which is known for its devout love of the sport - football might just be the best healing power for the community.
Follow Alec White on Twitter