BY MARK DAVIS
The Salisbury University football team does not just work hard on the field.
The team traveled to Princess Anne and Eden on April 9 to help build a more covenient way for two elderly families to maneuver around their homes.
As the sun began to rise, both players and coaches left the university with their sights set on helping the community.
The Sea Gulls teamed up with the Chesapeake Housing Commission to aid with a ramp project that could help the families enter their homes through wheel chair use.
The Chesapeake Housing Commission is an organization whose mission is committed to achieving excellence in providing affordable quality housing, revitalizing communities, and promoting upward mobility and self-sufficiency through alliances with public and private sector groups.
For the last several years, the team has built wheel chair ramps for families or organizations in need of them. With the help of head coach Sherman Wood the team was able to complete another successful job in the community.
“I think it’s important to have the opportunity to help any senior that is disabled.
We were able to provide wheel chair ramps for those seniors that cannot afford to pay for something of that nature,” Wood said.
The ramps were built by the front door and lead from the yard directly to the driveway. This gives the families easy access around the outside of their homes making life much easier for the elderly couples.
With the constant use of tools and materials, the players quickly became natural handymen.
Receiving guidance from the housing organization, and with the experience of Wood and the veteran players, the team was able to complete the task quickly and efficiently.
“We all know that this project is going to make a difference in someone’s life, so if we can do small things like take the time out of our day to build a ramp then it all pays off in the end,” senior offensive lineman Riley Cannon said. “We are all happy that we can do this for people, and I know I’m especially happy.”
As the rain approached, everyone worked double-time to ensure the project would be completed in time, but regardless of the weather, every person involved refused to leave until the job was done.
“Even though it was raining and snowing, we didn’t let that keep us from finishing the ramp,” incoming freshman wide receiver Damion King said.
The experience offered multiple things to the younger players on the team. Not only would they have the opportunity to help out someone in the community, but they could also build bonds with their older teammates.
“The experience with building the ramp was wonderful, I was out there with a bunch of guys that are now my teammates doing something good for the community,” King said. “Overall it was a great bonding moment.”
After the project was completed and the last nail had been hammered, players remained to stick around, not to gaze upon their work, but to see the faces of those they had helped.
“I stayed after not because I felt obligated to, but because I wanted to see the look on the families face once we finished. All in all, the experience was great and I learned how to build a ramp,” King said.
At the end of the day, the team left with an experience to remember and many stories to tell of their time during this project.
College athletes don’t get paid to play on the field, and they certainly don’t get paid to wake up early on a Saturday morning and build a ramp. But payment can come in many forms other than money, and for the SU football team, the happiness of the families they helped was even better than money.
“The biggest reward from this whole experience was seeing the joy shine in the eyes of the senior citizens,” sophomore wide receiver Sean Rowland said. “I’d do this every weekend if I could just to help make a difference for a good cause.”
Wood is never shy to community service and is known to give a helping hand when needed. After all the community has done for him and his team, he is always willing to give back any chance he can.
“I just believe some students probably would’ve never experienced a lifestyle of the way someone lived, and I think that’s a learning experience for all of us,” Wood said.
“Sometimes everyone isn’t in a great situation, it helps your heart when you’re helping someone else out the best way you can.”
Mark Davis is a sophomore defensive back on the SU football team.