Ordinarily, local schools would have spent last weekend opening their 2017 football slate and getting back into the school swing. However, Hurricane Harvey had other plans, calling for a quick shift in the game plan.
Among abundant relief efforts mobilizing all around the local area last week were multi-faceted efforts from the St. Thomas High School and St. Pius X High School communities.
St. Thomas athletic director Mike Netzel and alumna Tim Redden organized efforts to aid Rockport, where Harvey made devastating landfall barely two weeks ago.
“There was a need to place some attention on Rockport and make sure the people were not forgotten in the recovery effort,” Netzel said in a release on the school’s website. “This is a testament to the humanity of our community, that people trust in our school, understand that our heart is for people, and the reach of St. Thomas stretches throughout the city. Incredible that we could make just a dent and I’m so grateful to all those who gave of themselves during one of the worst weeks in Houston history.”
Additionally, first-year head football coach Rich McGuire and members of his coaching staff, plus athletic coordinator and head soccer coach Kenny Martin and faculty member Darrell Yarbrough, organized, dispatched and accompanied students on recovery missions.
“Shattering…beyond words … truly sad,” McGuire said of the sights according to a release. “You’re literally tearing out someone’s life and putting it out on the curb. Furniture…carpeting…keepsakes… all up and down the block.”
In all, dozens of St. Thomas faculty, staff and students chipped in for the effort, beyond what administrators could have imagined given the circumstances all around the city.
“Given what this city has endured this week I wasn’t sure we would have this kind of turnout, this amount of supplies and support, but I’m not surprised. Proud is not near strong enough a description. This is typical of our St. Thomas community, ready and willing to respond,” Principal Aaron Dominguez said in a release. “I can’t relate the number of contacts that were made to me this week, what could people do, how could they get involved. This is just one example of what it looks like when it comes to fruition.”
Closer to home, instead of beginning a hopeful state championship run, several members of the St. Pius X football team suited up for a different team, joining together with the community at large to help their family restore some sanity to their lives. Senior Chase Lane, along with Grant Gunnell, McKade Mettauer and other members of the St. Pius community, spent hours on end at athletic director Jason Kimball’s home (where he needed some work done around the house moving furniture, wood and other various materials out) and at other homes throughout the community.
“I knew my people down here in Houston were struggling so much — the whole concept here is that we’re all one family,” said Lane, who was relatively unaffected living in the Woodlands, but rushed to heed the call as soon as he was able. “These people here at St. Pius are my brothers — I’m going to help my brothers out.”
Elsewhere, senior lineman Jacob Craig and senior safety Ricky Lester also spent much of the last week (as soon as Harvey’s havoc let up) searching far and wide for any family member in need along with their school brethren. They, along with throngs of other SPX students, spent the week tearing out sheetrock, moving out furniture and more.
In the end, they said the effort was simply a practical implementation of the school and community rallying cry.
“When there’s a need, everybody comes together and helps out as a community,” Craig said. “One of the most important things you learn by being a part of this St. Pius community is selfless service to each other and helping each other out as best you can.”
“It’s just second nature to us — we know we’re a big family, and knew that it needed to be happening,” Lester added. “We sacrifice everything for each other – blood, sweat and tears, on and off the field. It just comes down to the fact that we all love each other.”