Sept. 26, 2005
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - As the Texas A&M division of the Tulane University Athletics family finally began to find some semblance of normalcy, Mother Nature again sent the group running for cover over the weekend.
Just as members of the Green Wave teams relocated to College Station had become somewhat comfortable in their home away from home, word spread that Hurricane Rita was headed their way. Just a little over two weeks since arriving at the A&M campus, Tulane student-athletes were once again forced to head for shelter - this time spending Friday night in the underbelly of Kyle Field.
The site of the Texas A&M football team's 44-31 victory over Texas State less than 24 hours ago, the mood in Kyle Field was far from jubilant on Friday night as students, coaches and staff made the pilgrimage to the stadium and battening down for what was at the time a category four hurricane. Tulane Athletics Director Rick Dickson made the journey from Dallas to College Station, bringing with him nearly 50 air mattresses to help make the stay in Kyle as comfortable as possible. In addition, Texas A&M food services provided the Green Wave with provisions, including cold cuts, bread, peanut butter and jelly, and fruit.
Luckily for all involved, the evacuation was little more than a precaution as Rita shifted east and the College Station area was spared its wrath. After a breakfast of dry cereal (sans milk), fruit, and the occasional cookie or two, all in attendance were released to return to their respective dorms around 11 a.m. The campus had been spared, but the Tulane Athletic Department did not go unaffected.
The impending storm forced the cancellation of four intercollegiate competitions - two each for the volleyball and soccer teams. The volleyball team was supposed to open the Conference USA portion of its schedule over the weekend at East Carolina on Friday and back "home" against Marshall on Sunday. Since both matches were conference contests, the league is currently working to reschedule them. Both soccer contests however, were against non-conference opponents and the games will not be rescheduled. That means the Green Wave will have to open Conference USA play vs. Memphis on Friday without having played against outside competition since a Sept. 4 showdown against Kennesaw State at the UAB/Nike Tournament.
All told, hurricanes Katrina and Rita have forced the cancellation or postponement of 18 events (nine soccer and nine volleyball), but there has been some positive news out of College Station as well.
The Green Wave volleyball team became the first team to return to their pre-Hurricane Katrina routine as they have set up shop at the G. Rollie White Coliseum, home of the Texas A&M volleyball program. The team hosted the NOKIA Sugar Bowl Classic on Sept. 16-18. Despite not having uniforms and having to wear silk-screened t-shirts with large block numbers on the back, the Green Wave did their University proud by giving it their all in a 3-0 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame and a four-game defeat at the hands of Pac-10 member Arizona State.
Games were not the only facet of the department affected by the hurricanes. Several team's practice schedules had to be revamped, and despite missing several key dates of time in their respective arenas, the swimming and diving team, as well as the men's basketball squad returned to practice and individual workouts, respectively, on Monday, Sept. 26. The soccer team, meanwhile, reconvened on Monday and will hit the practice field once again on Tuesday.
In the meantime, the support from everyone at Texas A&M - from the student body, to the administration to the coaching staffs of Aggie teams - has been unyielding. Several hundred A&M fans were on hand during the NOKIA Sugar Bowl Classic, and the student section catered their famed yells toward Tulane and gave the new home team a huge fan base. Several students and A&M fans also showed up for the Tulane/Sam Houston State soccer match last Wednesday only to be turned away as the Bearkat administration sent their student-athletes home to prepare for the storm.
While everyone hopes the worst is behind them, the Green Wave program continues to move on. The volleyball team will attempt to re-open C-USA play this weekend when it plays host to Rice and Houston on Friday and Sunday, respectively, and the soccer team will open league play at Memphis on Friday. For more updates on the entire Tulane Athletic Department, be sure to log onto the official website of Green Wave Athletics, www.TulaneGreenWave.com.