Norwich University Student-Athletes Assist with Their Surrounding Community in a Time of Crisis
It was perhaps one of the worst hurricanes to hit New England in decades. It shut down cities days before a drop fell from the infamous Hurricane Irene. Despite the preparations, communities have been hard hit by this natural phenomenon and the community of Northfield, VT where Great Northeast Conference member Norwich University resides was among those dealing with the after effects. The Cadets are helping their local community bounce back after some the worst flooding Northfield has seen since 1973. Flooding was so great and fast that in certain areas it took only 30 minutes for the water to rise to a point where people had to be rescued from their houses. The tropical storm, when it hit Vermont, took out numerous roads, bridges, houses, trees, and land. It left residents without power and some isolated due to so many roads being washed out. These areas were already saturated from past rain fall, and with the rainfall of Irene it was too much.
As the tropical storm hit, a campus wide effort was made to help Norwich University’s fellow community members who were impacted by the flooding and devastation from the storm. Among those who came together on campus were the Cadets athletic teams. Antonio Davis, a men’s basketball player remarked, “It’s something you would never think you’d see here. We had to do this. It’s important, in my opinion, that the town of Northfield understands that we care about it and its people.” Among the many personal stories that developed from the relief work was what senior men’s lacrosse player Nate Proctor and his teammates did for a member of Judy Wright’s family. With the sister and brother-in-law of the college’s business school office manager having to seek other living arrangements due to mold and water damage, Nate and his friends stepped up to help. “Judy has been a lifesaver for me and many others,” he said. “Without her, I honestly think that I probably wouldn’t be as close to graduating as I am. She is always willing to get me the information I need to make sure I’m getting my classes together and so forth. I didn’t want to see her or her family be stressed out,” he added. “So, I asked coach (Neil) Anderson about helping their family out and within 12 hours, we were doing so. To see what the area was like along Water Street made it really hit home. I had seen the flood photos, but until you were actually over there and working along with these people, you didn’t see how it affected so many lives. These people are throwing out possessions and furniture because they can’t ever use them again.” The men’s basketball and lacrosse team’s stories were just a few in the effort. According to athletic director Tony Mariano, several teams spent time along Water Street and also in surrounding communities to help in the relief efforts and continue to do so. “This is just as much a part of the college experience as athletic competition and academic work,” Mariano said. “We want our students to be integral members of their communities whether it be on campus or out beyond Northfield.”