Hoopsters score for charity

By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 13, 2005

Players from the UA men's basketball team got down and dirty building houses for charity yesterday afternoon in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity and the High School Build Program.

Team members sported matching black T-shirts that read "Habitat's Tip-Off for 2005-2006" as they helped build a house at Howenstine Magnet High School for an underprivileged family.

Students from Howenstine, Santa Rita, Sabino and Sahuarita high schools participated in the kick-off event of the Habitat High School Build Program, an apprenticeship program for career and technology education students, according to a press release.

"It was great today," said senior forward Hassan Adams. "Especially for the community, helping build a house for someone who needs it."

The building project began after a brief ceremony and a $25,000 donation from Wells Fargo.

Players helped raise the outside walls as students hammered in nails and later took their turn with the hammer, joking and encouraging each other.

"We got to meet a lot of the kids, talk to them and help out the community," said Marcus Williams, an undeclared freshman and forward on the men's basketball team. "It was fun."

Assistant men's basketball associate coach Jim Rosborough said he didn't think any of the players had much experience with using the tools they needed to build the house.

"I checked with our team, and not one player has ever driven a nail into a board in his life," he joked in front of the small crowd. "It's great for our guys to come out and mix (with the community). We're very familiar with Habitat, not only the work that's going on in this community, but all over the country, the Gulf Coast and worldwide. It's a big honor for us to be here."

The students will build about 65 percent of the house before the other Habitat volunteers and program sponsors move it to its final location to complete the rest.

Colleen Sand, the school to work coordinator of Howenstine Magnet High School, said the process usually takes about two semesters.

"We got a lot of work done today," Sand said.

When the work is finished, the students will be able to meet the family who will live in the house and participate in the dedication ceremony.

The high school students were thrilled to see the basketball players, chatting with them and asking for autographs, to which all the players obliged.

"It's a way to reward these kids," Sand said about the collaboration with the team.

"I think it's pretty cool that they're interested in doing something like this and helping out Habitat," said Chad Sahm, one of the student participants in the program.

Michael McDonald, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said it was wonderful that the players and high school students in the area were actually helping to build the community.

Along with the players and students, recruiting and basketball operations coordinator Reggie Geary, video coordinator Jack Murphy and head coach Lute Olson's wife, Christine Olson, were on hand. The mood may have been lighthearted, but many of the players realized the impact of the event.

"Right now in this world with (Hurricane) Katrina, it's always a little extra inspiration to do something like this for somebody," Adams said. "It was a lot of fun meeting people, meeting some of the kids and seeing new faces."

Williams agreed with Adams' sentiments.

"It makes you feel fortunate for the gifts you have," Williams said.

More than 900 students have helped build 40 houses, directly affecting 120 children who now have a place to call home since the program was started.