Hillsdale athletics send aid to Hurricane Harvey victims

Hillsdale athletics send aid to Hurricane Harvey victims

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Social media seems to draw us apart too often. In the middle of Hur­ricane Harvey, however, Uni­versity of Houston’s men’s bas­ketball coach Kelvin Sampson took to Twitter to request aid for the city. More than 1,300 insti­tu­tions answered his plea. Hillsdale College was one of these pro­grams.

Both Charger bas­ketball teams and the football team com­bined to send mul­tiple boxes full of new sweat­shirts, shirts, and shoes to the Uni­versity of Houston bas­ketball team, which dis­tributed them to those in need in the Houston area.

“It’s hard to think about what that kind of flooding is like and what people have lost,” assistant men’s bas­ketball coach Brandon Pritzl ’14 said. “We wanted to rep­resent who we are and what we are about.”

Pritzl, who spear­headed the effort for the men’s bas­ketball program, found out about the oppor­tunity after Sampson tweeted a chal­lenge on Aug. 28, as Harvey began its fourth day of assault on the Houston area. Sampson chal­lenged coaches from high schools and “every level of college” to send 20 T-shirts and 10 pairs of shoes to the team for dis­tri­b­ution to those left with only the clothes on their backs.

Pritzl took the chal­lenge to heart and gathered the requested sup­plies and more.

Although Pritzl said he didn’t orig­i­nally mention any­thing to other Hillsdale coaches, they were on the same page, as assistant football coach Pat Hornak and assistant women’s bas­ketball coach Matt Hilkens took up the flame for their own pro­grams.

“It’s one of those things where you get an email or see the tweet… and you just think, ‘That’s really cool. As a program, we should do some­thing,’” Hornak said.

For Hilkens and the rest of Hillsdale ath­letics, this was an oppor­tunity to show what kind of pos­itive impact sports can have.

“At the end of the day, it’s one of those instances where nothing else matters,” Hilkens said. “This is people’s lives and you just want to be able to help in whatever way you can.”

Hornak added that this was a chance to share a part of the mission of Hillsdale Ath­letics.

“If you look at what college is, it’s to do the best for everybody,” he said. “I think we, as people, should just help others. That’s what we do here on campus. When you need help, somebody is there to pick you up.”

Each program did its best to send a wide-variety of sizes and goods, aiming to fill needs across the board. This included brand new gear that teams had planned on dis­trib­uting for the season.

Other schools, indi­viduals, busi­nesses, and ath­letic pro­grams from all across the nation also responded in force, and Sampson’s Twitter feed soon filled with pic­tures of boxes full of gear, des­tined for Houston. Just three days after Sampson sent the tweet, he sent another, thanking the over 1,300 pro­grams that had already par­tic­i­pated. He added that his program had reached its capacity to effec­tively dis­tribute all of the dona­tions it had received at that time, but he encouraged pro­grams to make mon­etary dona­tions to the American Red Cross.

“At a time when so many people are strug­gling, it is com­forting to see the love and feel the support that mankind so often dis­plays in times of crisis,” Sampson added in the tweet.

Other prominent figures in sports have also taken to social media to help bring aid to the Houston area. Most notably, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt started a cam­paign which has raised nearly $20 million.

“Social media is amazing,” Hilkens said. “This is so much bigger than sports, and it’s incredible to see the impact celebrities and ath­letes can have when they use their resources to reach out.”

For Pritzl, seeing so many dif­ferent groups in the ath­letic com­munity coming alongside one another was pow­erful in and of itself.

“Just thinking of people getting together for the same mission, that’s pretty cool,” Pritzl said. “We may compete, but we’re all in it together.”

Both Charger bas­ketball teams and the football team com­bined to send mul­tiple boxes full of new sweat­shirts, shirts, and shoes to the Uni­versity of Houston bas­ketball team, which dis­tributed them to those in need in the Houston area.

“It’s hard to think about what that kind of flooding is like and what people have lost,” assistant men’s bas­ketball coach Brandon Pritzl ’14 said. “We wanted to rep­resent who we are and what we are about.”

Pritzl, who spear­headed the effort for the men’s bas­ketball program, found out about the oppor­tunity after Sampson tweeted a chal­lenge on Aug. 28, as Harvey began its fourth day of assault on the Houston area. Sampson chal­lenged coaches from high schools and “every level of college” to send 20 T-shirts and 10 pairs of shoes to the team for dis­tri­b­ution to those left with only the clothes on their backs.

Pritzl took the chal­lenge to heart and gathered the requested sup­plies and more.

Although Pritzl said he didn’t orig­i­nally mention any­thing to other Hillsdale coaches, they were on the same page, as assistant football coach Pat Hornak and assistant women’s bas­ketball coach Matt Hilkens took up the flame for their own pro­grams.

“It’s one of those things where you get an email or see the tweet… and you just think, ‘That’s really cool. As a program, we should do some­thing,’” Hornak said.

For Hilkens and the rest of Hillsdale ath­letics, this was an oppor­tunity to show what kind of pos­itive impact sports can have.

“At the end of the day, it’s one of those instances where nothing else matters,” Hilkens said. “This is people’s lives and you just want to be able to help in whatever way you can.”

Hornak added that this was a chance to share a part of the mission of Hillsdale Ath­letics.

“If you look at what college is, it’s to do the best for everybody,” he said. “I think we, as people, should just help others. That’s what we do here on campus. When you need help, somebody is there to pick you up.”

Each program did its best to send a wide-variety of sizes and goods, aiming to fill needs across the board. This included brand new gear that teams had planned on dis­trib­uting for the season.

Other schools, indi­viduals, busi­nesses, and ath­letic pro­grams from all across the nation also responded in force, and Sampson’s Twitter feed soon filled with pic­tures of boxes full of gear, des­tined for Houston. Just three days after Sampson sent the tweet, he sent another, thanking the over 1,300 pro­grams that had already par­tic­i­pated. He added that his program had reached its capacity to effec­tively dis­tribute all of the dona­tions it had received at that time, but he encouraged pro­grams to make mon­etary dona­tions to the American Red Cross.

“At a time when so many people are strug­gling, it is com­forting to see the love and feel the support that mankind so often dis­plays in times of crisis,” Sampson added in the tweet.

Other prominent figures in sports have also taken to social media to help bring aid to the Houston area. Most notably, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt started a cam­paign which has raised nearly $20 million.

“Social media is amazing,” Hilkens said. “This is so much bigger than sports, and it’s incredible to see the impact celebrities and ath­letes can have when they use their resources to reach out.”

For Pritzl, seeing so many dif­ferent groups in the ath­letic com­munity coming alongside one another was pow­erful in and of itself.

“Just thinking of people getting together for the same mission, that’s pretty cool,” Pritzl said. “We may compete, but we’re all in it together.”

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Stevan Bennett Jr. is a senior from the pumpkin capital of the world, Morton, Illinois. He is studying economics and journalism, and plans on attending law school after Hillsdale. He has written for the Collegian since 2014 and is the sports editor. His addictions include coffee, the Chicago Cubs, NHL 2015, and miscellaneous adventuring. email: Sbennett1@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @StevanBennett