Basketball Team Keeps On Despite Katrina
WCJB, TV20 News
When asked if he finds inspiration in the Florida Gators Basketball team, Holy Cross high school senior Kris Collins emphatically said "Yes".
Interesting, since Collins could serve as an inspiration for nearly anyone who has fought through adversity.
The New Orleans East resident and his family lost their house in Hurricane Katrina. Collins then moved to Hammond, Louisiana where there was no electricity and then to Marshall, Texas.
Things weren't much better for Holy Cross High School. After spending more than 125-years in New Orleans' lower 9th ward, the school was forced to move to Baton Rouge.Â Without Collins and without a school, Holy Cross decided to try and move back to New Orleans.
"When I heard they were re-opening Holy Cross, all I wanted to do was come back and play Holy Cross basketball," said Collins.
There was one problem with playing basketball though.
"The gym roof was blown off by Hurricane Katrina. We have played the last two seasons pretty much entirely on the road," said Holy Cross principal Dr. Joe Murry.
Even still, the Holy Cross Tigers made their way to the state quarterfinals this past winter.Â Â For a little while a community destroyed had a distraction to follow.
"Us getting to the third round brought a lot of people into the Holy Cross family," said Collins.
Kind of like a certain group of Gainesville Gators created a family of its own en-route to the 2006 Basketball National Championship. But the connection doesn't end there.
Thursday after practice Head Coach Billy Donovan had the team bus driver take the Gators through some of the destroyed sections of New Orleans.
"It's crazy, it's so sad. A year and a half later, there is still so much destruction. Coach really wanted us to see it to make us see how lucky we are," said junior forward Joakim Noah.
The usually talkative Noah struggled to describe the miles of destruction he saw.
"It's an unbelievable circumstance. (Pause) I don't really know what to say," said Noah.
So while the Gators can't rebuild houses during their brief stay in New Orleans, maybe playing in the NCAA tournament can be their small contribution to a rebuilding city.
"If it brings a lot of people back into the city, then hopefully we can be some inspiration," said junior center Al Horford.
And amazingly enough, Horford and his team has already done some of that for Kris Collins.
"It showed me how much they love the game when they all came back next year instead of going to the pro's," said Collins.
Kris Collins is not quite ready for the NBA, but he is being recruited to play in college. The team's leading scorer says he wants to play at Ball State University next year. And a message for any coach recruiting Collins; he will NOT be rattled on the road.
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