PEELER: FB Players, Staff Head South for Service
BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH, N.C. NC State’s spring break started at the end of classes on Friday, scattering students all over the globe for a 10-day mid-semester vacation.
For members of the football team, it is the last hurrah before the beginning of spring practice later this month, a rare opportunity to go home from what is practically a year-round commitment to the program.
But for three players and four football graduate students and staff members, this spring break will be unlike any other they have ever experienced. They took off Sunday night in a university van for Gulfport, Miss., where they will spend the week working on a service project in an area hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Defensive back Zach Powell, defensive tackle Wayne Crawford and offensive guard Desmond Roberts joined assistant director of football operations Kit Hughes and graduate students Bobby Blick and Jeff Archer on the five-day trip to help rebuild infrastructure through Project Hope and Compassion, a service project hosted by St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Lizana, Miss.
“I am extremely proud of our staff and players who have decided to spend their spring break serving the community,” said Wolfpack football coach Tom O'Brien. “Our graduate assistants are setting a great example for our team of what it takes to be a champion in the community.
“I hope this experience will be so rewarding for the participating players that next year, we will have a larger contingent who decide to go.”
Hughes organized the trip and gave an open invitation to the team and the staff. While they aren’t sure what specifically they will be working on throughout the week, previous groups have worked in demolition and home reconstruction.
“Not a lot of people have moved back to the area after being displaced by the hurricane,” Hughes said. “So, for even the most basic things, they need volunteers to come in and help do a number of projects. They expressed an interest in having us help build a housing project they have going up. I know we will also help work on a playground.”
While O’Brien has encouraged his team to make many day trips during his career as a head coach last spring the team visited wounded soldiers at Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, N.C., and players have frequently visited hospitals and worked at the Raleigh Rescue Mission this is the first multi-day service project.
“We know this is over spring break, and a lot of guys are going home,” Hughes said. “We didn’t pressure anyone to go. We just wanted to give them the opportunity to get involved if they wanted to.”
The football contingent is not alone in going on a working vacation this week. More than 200 other students from the university are participating in the Alternative Spring Break Project sponsored by NC State’s Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service. This year, CSLEPS is sponsoring 14 trips, ranging from Alaska to Central America to Italy.
For the football players and staff, sleeping on cots and making their own food will be a departure from their normal structured lifestyle on campus. But Hughes said everyone was looking forward to their week away from campus.
“It’s a very humble lifestyle with a lot of hard work,” Hughes said. “But it’s one of those things that I am sure we are going to get back 10 times more than we give. We hope this trip is something that is rewarding for our guys and will inspire more players and staff to go next time.”
You may contact Tim Peeler at firstname.lastname@example.org.