With convoluted forecast models showing a number of different tracks for Hurricane Harvey, the University of Houston football program found out quickly why they are called spaghetti models.
Unsure of the impact the hurricane would have on the city, the decision was made Thursday, August 24, night to move the UH football team to Austin the following day to continue preparations for the season opener on September 2 at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
The best-case scenario was for Houston to be hit with rain, but not heavy enough to cause prolonged flooding, and the team would practice Saturday and Sunday in Austin before returning Sunday night or on Monday.
And then Sunday hit.
On this morning, everyone was attached to their phones, trying to connect with their loved ones in Houston to check on their safety. The room was filled with angst and concern. Coach Major Applewhite quickly made the decision to cancel practice that day, and the focus turned to the team’s emotional well-being and the safety of their families.
The team returned to the field Monday, mainly to take a break from everything they were seeing, while still preparing for, at that point, the September 2 season opener. On Tuesday the game was cancelled, and the focus turned to two questions: “How quickly can we get home?” and “What can we do to help?”
It was then the idea formulated to bring supplies back to Houston. Two drop sites were estbalished in Austin, and an appeal for the most needed items was made through thte media.
There was limited room on the team’s buses and an apparent need for trucks to transport donations. So, what better way to show a state united than trucks from across the state?
The team quickly reached out to Texas Football Bowl Subdivision schools whose equipment trucks would be available. Everyone wanted to help, and once logistics were worked out, trucks from Baylor, North Texas, Southern Methodist University, Texas State, Texas Tech and UTSA made their way to Austin to meet up with the Houston and Texas Football trucks.
The trucks were loaded Thursday afternoon in Austin and sent back home with the team that night. The next day a convoy from the state’s football programs made its way into Houston where the team gathered to help unload the supplies.
But that’s not where the team’s efforts ended. As soon as the trucks were unloaded, student-athletes jumped into their cars and spread out across the city to help gut flooded houses for the next 24-48 hours. To say Houston Football, and student athletes from other UH sports, are Houston proud is an understatement, and the Athletics staff could not be more proud of them.