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'Hoos Pitching In for Hurricane Relief

Aaron Smith
Sept. 12, 2017

Twitter: @JeffWhiteUVa | Subscribe to White's Articles

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- As Hurricane Harvey hammered the Houston area and its flood-stricken residents, athletics officials at the University of Houston issued calls for help to their counterparts around the country.

The University of Virginia is among those answering.

UVA's 27 varsity teams have donated shoes and clothing -- all unused -- to the Houston relief effort. United Parcel Service will cover the costs of shipping the gear from Charlottesville to Houston this week. UPS is scheduled to pick up the shipment Tuesday afternoon.

"Every sport has donated something to this cause," said assistant equipment manager Chris Moore, who led the Cavaliers' initiative.

In all, Moore said Monday, donations included 300 pairs of shoes, 400-plus T-shirts, 150 pairs of sweatpants, 20 pairs of socks, 50 polo shirts and 100 caps: enough to fill six pallets.

Head coaches Aaron Smith (volleyball) and Bryan Fetzer (track & field/cross country) and assistant softball coaches Kaleigh Rafter and Katie Repole helped box up the gear on a recent morning. There are items for youths and for adults, for men and for women, all stacked in huge piles near the equipment room in University Hall.

"We're hitting every possible age group," Moore said.

At the University of Houston, head men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson started the campaign late last month, asking on Twitter for coaches around the country to give their extra shoes and T-shirts to Texas resident affected by Harvey.

Sampson's coaching colleagues at Houston made similar requests of their counterparts at other schools, including UVA.

When Virginia's shipment reaches the University of Houston, officials there will see that the gear is distributed to needy residents.

Fetzer began his coaching career at Ranger College in Texas, "so this hits home for me a little bit more," he said. "Hopefully this helps motivate others to give back, too."

He's been inspired by the efforts of J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans star whose fundraising drive has raised tens of millions of dollars for victims of Harvey.

"Hopefully this is an eye-opener to our country," Fetzer said. "This is a great place. Do we have problems? Absolutely, but it's all about people. This country has shown great resiliency in coming together in times like this."

Virginia Basketball also has made it a priority to help those affected by Harvey. The UVA men's and women's teams held a shoe and clothing drive Sunday at Mt, Zion First African Baptist Church in Charlottesville, and the items they collected will be sent to Houston.

Late last week, the NCAA granted the University of Houston a special waiver to begin handing out the donated clothing and shoes to hurricane victims, including high school athletes who ordinarily cannot accept such gifts from colleges.

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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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