Wilkes sports teams lend a hand in flood relief efforts

Justin Franiak, Asst. Sports Editor

A team is defined as a group of people linked in a common purpose. This common purpose is not to beat King’s, win a MAC or Metro title, or qualify for nationals, but rather help those in need. Our end of River Street was lucky enough not to experience major damage in the recent floods, but others in our community were not so lucky.

Many Wilkes athletic teams took time out of their busy schedules and training to participate in well needed community service.

“I knew there was need of help in certain spots and I wanted to be able to go out and coach and school gave us the opportunity to help,” Katy Fissel, a senior Intergrated Media major and Women’s Soccer player, said. She along with a few other Women’s Soccer players were sent to a few houses where they performed various tasks. Fissel said she tore down drywall and wall boards that had been touched by the flood waters.

“We had to be very careful with what we touched and had to clean everything, clothes, body, etc multiple times because instead of flood water some houses had sewage water,” Fissel said.

Taking out all the affected belongings, cleaning basement, and organizing trash to be picked up was also taken on by the team.

Coach John Sumoski was very proud of his players after their volunteering hours and believes their hard work payed off in multiple ways, “I believe that this selflessness brings out the best of the team, it helps them get the job done and helps them realize that giving is more important than receiving.”

Along with the Women’s Soccer team, Wilkes’ Wrestling team also volunteered to help flood victims. Coach Jon Laudenslager of the Wrestling Team reiterated the fact that team bonding was also a benefit of his team volunteering.

“In our sport, or any other sport that is one vs. one, you’re not relying on a teammate for help in the competition, but there’s the old saying that you’re only as good as your teammates make you,” he said.

Junior Engineering Major and Wrestler Griffin Panicucci helped sanitize and salvage textbooks and reading materials at a local church and library, while other wrestlers helped move garbage and clean-up debris from victims houses.

“It made me feel like a part of the community I’m living in,” Paniccuci said about volunteering, ” It gave us a chance to get out and see that, even though our campus was fine, others didn’t have it as good. It would be good to get out there again, considering we are a large team, and put a dent in what needs to be done and giving the relief workers a little break.”

Senior Education Major and Women’s Soccer player Megan Clementson believes she took some stress off of the victims.

“The older lady we helped kept asking us how she could repay us for our work,” Clementson said. “It was great to say, ‘Nothing,. we came because we wanted to help you.”

Clementson said it was satisfying to see the burden lifted off the victims shoulders and would definitely want to help again.

“It was definitely hard work, but seeing the reactions of the family we helped at the end was well worth it,” Clementson said.

Whether it was cleaning basements, ripping down walls, or putting trash at the curb, this army of volunteers definitely made its mark on the community and maybe gained a few more fans.

“We actually gained a couple fans at our game following our volunteer work.  A couple of individuals that were helping with us admired our desire to help and thought it would be nice to support us by coming to our game,” Clementson said.

Volunteers are still needed to help victims. If interested, contact Megan Boone at megan.boone@wilkes.edu.