WC Student Athletes Helped Keep Hospital Open During Storms

WC Student Athletes Helped Keep Hospital Open During Storms

From the February 18th, 2010 edition of the Kent County News
College athletes pitch in during storm
by Trish McGee
Republished with permission of the Kent County News

CHESTERTOWN - No doubt, Washington College's athletes would tell us they were just being good neighbors when they answered the hospital's SOS during the doubleheader blizzard earlier this month.

Lacrosse coach J.B. Clarke and more than a dozen players trekked across campus three times to assist Chester River Hospital Center, while a handful of soccer players, organized by junior captain Danny Wood, walked over in the height of the storm last Wednesday to help.

They were "enthusiastic, kind and ready to help in whatever capacity we needed them," said Julie Vallecillo, director of marketing and public relations for Chester River.

"When we can, we help," Joe Holt, the college's chief of staff, said Saturday during an impromptu interview at a men's basketball game. "None of us is equipped for this. We're lucky we have a resident labor pool."

In another bit of good fortune, the students had time on their hands. Classes had been cancelled for the entire week, and students were holed up in their dorm rooms. In the case of the lacrosse players, they couldn't get outside to practice because Kibler Field was and still is buried under three feet of snow.

Holt was the point man for the college, and got things going after receiving an e-mail from Scott Burleson, executive vice president at Chester River, asking for help with snow removal and cleanup.

Clarke and a large number of his players helped put down salt and move snow after the Feb. 5-6 storm.

When the second blizzard hit on Feb. 9-10, and the hospital's five-man maintenance staff already stretched to the limit, Clarke and crew again stepped into their boots, donned hats and gloves, and grabbed shovels.

At this point, according to Holt, it was a matter of helping the hospital to stay open.

Within an hour of receiving the call from Holt, Clarke and six members of his team were on the job clearing parking lots, stairways, the walkway to the helicopter landing pad, and even the roof.

In the afternoon, when the storm caught its second wind, Wood walked over to the hospital, gathering teammates as he went.

Last Thursday, after the storm had ended, seven members of the lacrosse team went back to the hospital to shovel out the cars of doctors, nurses and other staff who had been there since the first storm.

"It was absolutely on a voluntary basis, about two to three hours each time," Clarke said.

Members of the lacrosse team also pretty much ran the "dish room" at the college for several days, scraping plates and loading the dishwashers because most of the dining hall staff couldn't get to work.

Also snowed in was Washington soccer coach Drew Hoffman, who lives in Rock Hall.

He applauded his players' initiative and selflessness.

Shoveling and moving snow "was good exercise for them," Hoffman wrote in e-mail Monday, "but more importantly it is good for them to help out the community.

"I think sometimes the students get a negative reputation within the community. So when we have a chance to do something positive, we certainly want to lend a hand.

"Coach Clarke and I feel strongly that our student athletes need to give back to the community."

Burleson, for one, has become a Washington College booster.

In an e-mail to Holt expressing his gratitude, Burleson wrote: "Fan-tastic and FANS is what the CRHS staff is going to become for these and other teams due to WC's great helping hand to us during the twin blizzards of February 2010."