Kelley Cain, Briana Bass, Sydney Smallbone and Habitat homeowner Christina Reagan.
Sept. 27, 2009
By Debby Jennings, Assoc. AD for Media Relations
Instead of sleeping in on a rainy Saturday morning like many of their fellow University of Tennessee classmates, the Lady Vol basketball team was up bright and early on Sept. 26 to help build a Habitat for Humanity house in Maryville, Tenn.
The players and coaching staff were in the Norwood Community in Blount County constructing a home for Christina Reagan. Coach Pat Summitt met Reagan at a luncheon a month ago and mentioned the meeting to her players and the opportunity to help build the Habitat home. Sophomore point guard Briana Bass immediately volunteered the entire Lady Vol squad.
"I agreed to help with this project when I met Christina and she told me about her three children and the Habitat house," said Summitt. "Later that day, I told the team about being out there and the opportunity to help with the house. Bree jumped up and said - `We're doing this! It will be a great team building atmosphere.'
"Today has been awesome. We came here early this morning and there was just a slab. We'll leave here this afternoon and there will be four walls up and we were able to do it. It's just amazing! Everybody came and stayed and worked hard despite the rain and the bad weather. As we always say, teamwork works," said Summitt.
Players and coaches were all over the job site at various work stations. Some were working on constructing the four sides of the house, others were working on interior wall framing while junior Angie Bjorklund and sophomore Shekinna Stricklen were on roof detail. They worked with a carpenter named Bill who supervised the duo and the rest of their crew with construction of the end roof trusses.
Soaking wet from the intermittent rain, Stricklen and Bjorklund were beaming with pride at their building accomplishments. "This is the first time I've ever done this. It's exciting and I'm really enjoying it," said Stricklen. "I've been working with Angie (Bjorklund) and Bill the carpenter. We've been building the two end roof trusses - got one finished and almost done with the other one.
"I am so happy for Christina. She's working right alongside of all of us and we're one big team helping her to build her house," said Stricklen.
One of the onsite Habitat supervisors was Susan Hughes. "There is a lot of great energy today with the Lady Vol basketball team," Hughes said. "I know Christina is grateful for their help. She is out here putting in the 450 sweat equity hours she will need before the completion of her home."
At one end of the house Summitt, junior Vicki Baugh, freshman Taber Spani and other volunteers put the finishing touches on wall sheathing. At the front of the house, rookies Kamiko Williams and Faith Dupree joined Tyler Summitt and sophomores Glory Johnson, Lyssi Brewer and Alicia Manning in adding blocking and framing the front door and windows with basketball operations director Kathy Harston handing off the precisely cut pieces from the saw station.
Where walls would soon frame the interior of the home, coaches Dean Lockwood and Holly Warlick were assisting Bass, Sydney Smallbone, Kelley Cain and graduate assistant Cassie Kowaleski with the construction efforts.
The afternoon work was cut short by heavy rain and lightening. "I've never done anything like this before and it is just amazing that we've actually built the walls of this home," remarked a soggy Bjorklund. "When we leave here today we will know a great feeling of satisfaction."