One month ago, millions across New Jersey, Staten Island and Long Island sat hopelessly in the dark. Superstorm Sandy had just torn through the area, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
The unprecedented storm inflicted unprecedented damage upon the region.
Not only were power lines down, but whole homes had been washed away. Boats were thrown from marinas into folks’ front yards.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would eventually refer to the disaster as “our Katrina.”
With their fellow Americans hurting, a number of Northeast Conference schools and student-athletes extended a helping hand.
Close to Home
In numerous cases, the help wasn’t going to complete strangers, but to friends, neighbors and family members. With NEC members Monmouth and Wagner lying in two of the hardest-hit areas, the destruction of Sandy hit extremely close to home.
Take the Monmouth football team for instance. Senior guard Mike Murphy is from Toms River and his grandparents live on the Barrier Islands. Tight end Evan Ruane was staying with his grandparents in Sea Bright, but was forced to evacuate. Then, there is wide receiver Neal Sterling, who grew up four blocks from the beach in Belmar. His house was unscathed, but he woke up to ply wood drifting down his street.
Sportsnet New York (SNY) produced and aired a feature video on the three Monmouth gridders on November 9. It can be viewed by clicking here or by visiting SNY.tv.
Needless to say, the effects of Superstorm Sandy forced the cancellation of Monmouth’s home game against Central Connecticut, which was set for November 3. It was the first time a Northeast Conference football contest was canceled since the Saturday after September 11, 2001.
Monmouth did return to Kessler Field for game action on November 10, hosting Saint Francis (PA) in the NEC-TV Featured Game of the Week.
In the SNY feature piece, Ruane noted how returning to his teammates on the gridiron helped him cope with the disaster.
Wagner, which saw many of its Staten Island neighbors suffering in the aftermath, also used football to help cope. In addition to practice, conditioning and film study, the Seahawks made aiding relief efforts a team activity.
Amidst the chaos, Wagner played and won its most-meaningful football game in 25 years. The Seahawks went on the road and posted a 30-0 shutout of NEC preseason favorite Albany in a battle for first place on November 3.
The New York Times chronicled Wagner’s unorthodox week leading up to the Albany game in a feature story that ran on November 8. Read “After Storm, Wagner Quickly Regains Footing” by Jonathan Zeller
Twitter Activity Tells Some of the Story
While the students who were directly affected by the superstorm embarked on the long recovery/rebuilding process, others from around the Northeast Conference participated in organized relief efforts.
Eight of the Northeast Conference’s members took it upon themselves to spearhead programs aimed at helping those in need.
Bryant – The Bryant Bookstore joined forces with the school’s Student Arts and Speakers Series (a student group) to sponsor a food and toiletry drive to benefit the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties of New Jersey. Read more about Bryant’s effort.
Central Connecticut – The CCSU Fashion Club along with other organizations conducted a clothing drive on the New Britain campus on November 15. As the news post advertising the clothing drive stated, “Our brothers & sisters in New Jersey and New York need our help!!!” Read more of CCSU’s effort.
Monmouth – With its West Long Branch campus right in the middle of the fray, Monmouth began a relief effort of sorts before Sandy even made landfall. The Hawks’ $58 million Multi-Purpose Activity Center, which is home to Monmouth men’s and women’s basketball, served as an official evacuation shelter for Jersey Shore residents who were forced to leave their homes in anticipation of Sandy. Read “More Than 1,000 Expected At Monmouth University Shelter”
In the days following the storm, the Monmouth University community came together to form “Hawks Fly Together for Relief,” an initiative aimed at “promoting a unified campus and a unified fundraising effort.” Read more on the initiative.
The aforementioned Monmouth football team volunteered its services to unload a truckload of 1,500 turkeys at the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Their work was part of an annual food delivery that Stop & Shop makes to the Jersey Shore-based organization. Read “Football team helps to sack hunger with turkey delivery”
Mount St. Mary’s — The Mount St. Mary’s Athletic Department donated all ticket revenue and proceeds from the men’s basketball home opener against Hartford, on Tuesday, November 13, to Catholic Charities USA for their hurricane relief efforts. The Mount also collected numerous donated goods at the game, including non-perishable foods, hygiene products and first aid items. Read more of the Mount’s effort.
Quinnipiac – First-year Bobcats banded together and organized a clothing drive for the men’s basketball team’s home opener. Freshman Erica Miccoli was part of the group that collected clothes and donations to support those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Read more of Quinnipiac’s effort.
Sacred Heart – The SHU Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in collaboration with Student Government sweaters, sweatpants, scarves, coats, gloves, hats, boots, and blankets to be donated to people affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Pioneers began the drive at their home volleyball match and football game on November 10 and continued it throughout the following week. Read more about SHU’s effort.
St. Francis Brooklyn – Superstorm Sandy came and St. Francis Brooklyn responded by launching the Terriers for Terriers Relief Effort. TFT’s aim is to provide critical resources to those in the SFC family impacted by the horrific storm. Read more of SFBK’s effort.
Wagner – Seahawk-spearheaded relief efforts were plentiful on Grymes Hill in the days after Superstorm Sandy hit. First, there is the overarching effort led by Wagner Cares (wagnercares.org). As a direct result of the devastation that has occurred this past week from Hurricane Sandy, the Wagner College community has united to provide relief efforts to the many victims using a student-inspired initiative known as Wagner Cares. Before Wagner College students began their return to campus, post-Hurricane Sandy, many became very interested in volunteering to help hurricane victims. At the same time, Gregory Balaes (’13), President of the Student Government Association, contacted President Guarasci with the Wagner Cares concept and website. Read more on Wagner Cares.
Wagner’s women’s soccer team is making an effort to pitch in from the pitch. On December 1, the team will host a game day at Hameline Field, in which participating teams will be paired (by age and gender) against each other for one full match. Entry fees and raffle proceeds will benefit the victims of Sandy. Read more.
The aforementioned Wagner football team has done its part as well. You can learn more about the team’s effort by reading the feature story “Bridgeton athletes at Wagner help Staten Island recover from damage from Sandy” and by watching the brief YouTube video below.