Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Athletes help rebuild Tuscaloosa

It’s been six months, and Tuscaloosa has made progress toward rebuilding. Volunteers came from across the state and from across the nation to clean up and piece back together a city that was ravaged by the April 27 tornado. Nonetheless, there are young adults who have taken it upon themselves to help as many people as they can.

While there are few Alabama student-athletes who have called Tuscaloosa home since birth, each one came together with his or her respective team to assist the people of Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas.

Sophomore women’s tennis player Mary Anne Macfarlane did a lot of philanthropic work with her church. Sophomore men’s tennis player Carlos Taborga worked as an interpreter for those who could not speak English at all or very well.

Over the summer, the women’s basketball team partnered with Russell Relief for a school supplies drive. Senior guard Ericka Russell started the relief organization. The team gathered supplies, ranging from backpacks to crayons, for students at elementary schools that were damaged or destroyed by the tornado.

“I think it showed the community that athletes do think about other things besides sports,” Russell said. “I think people are just happy to see us go out and give back to the community and just show that we do have a heart and care about the community as well. It touched my teammates as well, just being able to help to do whatever they could do.”

Junior guard Jessica Merritt got involved with tornado relief efforts with the team by doing volunteer work through Habitat for Humanity, helping to build houses for those who lost their homes during the tornado.

“Tuscaloosa is our community,” she said. “I’m not from here, but being here, I feel like I’m a part of it. If anybody can help their community, I feel like we should take a big part in that because this is our home now. This is our community.”

Junior Ben Eblen spoke on behalf of the men’s basketball team’s tornado efforts. The team participated in projects including helping at Holt. Eblen said working with tornado relief helped bring the team together and gave them the opportunity to help those in need. After the season starts, Eblen said he looks for the team to continue its work helping to rebuild the city throughout the semester.

The softball team recently worked with student-athletes from The University of Notre Dame during the school’s fall break service trip. The groups worked in Alberta City, cleaning up debris. Notre Dame students also got to tour some of the University’s sports facilities and meet athletic director Mal Moore. The volunteering was done through Project Team Up.

The football team has been recognized for its efforts helping the city that the players carry on their backs. Since the season kicked off, players have donned the yellow ribbons on their helmets as a means of recognition and remembrance. There is also the Houndstooth painted ribbon on the field that is to be put on other athletic playing grounds. Some other teams will be sporting embroidery on their uniforms as well.

The football team recognized first responders at the first game of the season and will have the uniform and field markings through April 27, 2012. While almost all teams are about to be deep into their regular season schedules, athletes said they still want to help any way they can.

“I would love to keep helping in tornado relief,” Merritt said. “It’s fun knowing that you’re giving back.”

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