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