More than a dozen members of the Dripping Springs Lady Tigers varsity basketball team took to the gulf coast last week to help their fellow Texans rebuild after Hurricane Harvey.
The group, comprising of more than 12 girls and three coaches, went to Rockport to help rebuild homes destroyed by the storm, which made landfall in October 2017.
Rockport, located roughly 30 miles outside of Corpus Christi, as well as nearby Fulton, were two of the hardest hit areas by the storm.
The team arrived in Rockport Friday where members spent the rest of the day and the following morning installing flooring, painting walls and moving debris for those still affected by the hurricane.
Head Girls Basketball Coach David Norris planned the trip after former assistant coach Allison Garrett quit her job at Dripping Springs High to be a volunteer with All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response, an organization responsible for rebuilding communities affected by natural disasters.
Garrett began as a volunteer with the organization, but is now employed there as a logistics coordinator; Garrett maintains a blog detailing the organizations efforts. Norris said keeping up with Garrett’s work inspired him to plan the trip.
Norris wanted his players to experience something “bigger than basketball.”
“I thought it was a good bonding (experience) for our program,” Norris said. “I can tell that the trip was worthwhile. I can tell it did more for them as (people) than it will when it comes to wins and losses, but at least it brought this group together.”
The players met each family they were charged with helping after being split up into three separate groups.
One group learned to install laminate flooring, while another learned to paint and prime new walls. The last group was tasked with debris removal.
Fitted with gloves and goggles, the girls worked a total of ten hours, so the families could have floors to walk on and walls that replaced the previous coverings damaged by winds and water.
Julia Graham, a senior and the Tigers’ leading scorer, tore her ACL days before going on the trip.
While Graham is likely to miss the 2018 campaign, it didn’t keep her from sticking by her teammates and going on the trip. Even with a brace on her leg, Graham helped her teammates by painting walls.
“It was a good experience because we got to meet the owners of the houses (we worked on) and they were all really nice,” Graham said. “I can’t stand too long, but I sat and painted the baseboards and helped out.”
Dripping Springs senior Kennedy Donovan saw the trip as an opportunity to spend time with her teammates, many of whom are new to the varsity program. Dripping Springs graduated 10 seniors from last season’s team.
The trip was also a way for Donovan to continue doing volunteer work, an activity she does with her family regularly already through mission trips.
“They (homeowners) would come home and see how much work we’d gotten done and that felt really great,” Donovan said. “I helped put in floors and it was hard. I would be excited if my coach asked us to help again.”
The team helps raise money annually for charity, but this was the first trip the girls had taken and their first opportunity to donate their time and efforts.
Norris said he’s heard from the school’s other sports teams that they would like to help and participate in future efforts with the basketball team.