MacMurray College student athletes have returned home after lending a helping hand to the tornado recovery efforts in Washington.
Derek James, who coaches men’s and women’s golf and the women’s basketball team, says a few players from all three sports went on the trip.
He says his crew was directed to help clean up Hillcrest Golf Course on the edge of town, which was destroyed by the tornado.
James describes what he saw.
“We’re trying to figure out how the Ford truck got on the 18th fairway,” says James. “All the golf carts were spread all over. There were cars on top of what the old pro shop used to be. At one point I was cleaning up a garage that came from somewhere that was on the course. Every tree that you could see for about two miles was completely gone. I could see across the town of Washington. It was a clean path like they bulldozed the entire place.”
Two members of the college’s golf team were directly affected by the tornado. One student’s home was destroyed, and another has family members who lost theirs.
James says the team is rallying around those students.
“The one that lost the home, he’s relying a lot on us,” says James. “He’s been in my office hanging out with me getting back. We’re just treating it like – not that nothing happened – but just trying not to mention it. Just go about our day and joke around and do what we did before it happened. He was a player that came into my office all the time and we’re going to resume that to get his mind off of it.”
James says the trip wasn’t organized or school sponsored. He says his players just feel the need to get involved and make a difference.
He says a return trip is possible next week, but the college is discussing the possibility of organizing a larger group when more volunteers are allowed in Washington.