Today was the final full day in Puerto Rico for the Sacramento State women's basketball team. With no games and no practice, the team was finally able to make their furthest trip into Puerto Rico et, traveling an hour to Humacao, a municipality on the east coast and one of the first place to be hit when hurricane Maria made landfall. They brought with them donations, including clothing, water, non-perishable food items, school supplies, and more to be shared with the students at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao. It was an incredible day filled with performances, bonding, and exploration and a day that the team will certainly never forget.
Below are two player blogs from sophomores Kennedy Nicholas and Tiara Scott, sharing their thoughts and feelings about the day. We have just two more blog posts left, so be sure to check back again tomorrow as the team wraps up their trip and returns to Sacramento.
See all the photos from today's trip online in today's photo gallery: "WOMEN'S BASKETBALL DELIVERS DONATIONS TO UPR HUMACAO"
Day 6 Player Blogs – Thursday, Dec. 21
Today was the day we had all been anticipating the entire trip. We woke up early, hopped on the bus at 7:30 am, and left for Humacao, a town known for being one of the first and worst hit by Hurricane Maria.
On the drive, at first glance, everything seemed to be somewhat put together, not too much out of place. However, as we looked out the car window and looked closely, we saw billboards crashed into homes, power lines being driven over, and entire roofs laying on the side of the road. At some points it still looked like utter chaos. It was really different seeing so much more than we had on our other drives to the gym where we played.
After arriving at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao, we were welcomed by Sacramento State Professor Dr. Quinones. She introduced us to her family and helped us organize the relief bags we brought, then escorted us into an administration building for some much needed air conditioning.
Being at the university was such an amazing experience. The students were beyond friendly and welcoming – they even led a drum line with flag twirlers with their dance team preforming for us!
After several pictures and lots of clapping along we were introduced to the women's basketball team and immediately hit it off. We laughed, took snapchats, traded social media handles, and explained the differences between their basketball team and ours.
Finally after what seems like a hundred selfies, lots of laughs, and really great bonding, we were taken to their gym, and suddenly the laughter fell silent. One of their players explained to us, "This isn't the side that the televisions show," and it wasn't.
Once their favorite place on campus, the gym is now in severe ruins. Parts of the ceiling were blown off and still missing, the court had been warped from water, their weights in the weight room were rusted and moldy, plus two classrooms that were in the building were in complete shambles.
The team showed us around and explained how after Maria they took a break from practice, then found themselves doing conditioning out on the track just to be together. Their current practice court is 15 minutes away, and still they couldn't be happier just to play.
Sadly the visit had to come to an end, but it wasn't the end of our experience. Rather than take the highway back the way we came, we opted for a back road taking us up and over a large mountain filled with neighborhoods. The houses were incredible to see, some with second stories completely blown off, others with nothing but a drive way and some cinder blocks. It really was heart wrenching at times.
We were all anticipating today's part of the trip, but more than we expected, today made this trip extremely memorable, and I will cherish these new memories and a new appreciation for life forever. I couldn't have asked for a more humbling and surreal experience than what was given to us today. While I can't wait to be home tomorrow, I'm grateful that this trip was able to show us the truth behind the tragedy that was hurricane Maria.
Today we went to the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao to go give out donations. I've been looking forward to this part of the trip since we got here, and I know the rest of the team was, too.
On the way there we could see the change from San Juan to Humacao. The trees along the freeway were ripped up from the ground, the freeway signs were crooked and some were even blown completely off. The hurricane and its effects didn't seem real to me until I really saw the damage it left behind. People's homes were completely ruined, the roofs were torn off, windows and doors were blown out, and the trees and cables were crushing houses. I saw many stray dogs wandering along the streets and freeways. They were so skinny and one dog was eating trash. It was hard to truly accept what was going around me.
Despite how terrible things seemed to be, the people we met and the people I observed while driving to Humacao and to the Universidad de Puerto Rico seemed to have these bright smiles on their faces.
One of the girls who played basketball for the Universidad de Puerto Rico told me her and her family had to hold the doors and windows down the whole time so they wouldn't fly off during the hurricane. Their stories were both incredible and sad at the same time.
They showed us their basketball gym and parts of the roof were completely gone, still missing from the hurricane. The basketball court was dirty and warped from all the mud and rain and mildew.
Even still, walking down to that court with my teammates and the girls on the Puerto Rican team was an amazing experience. We were able to share laughter and even though we didn't know Spanish and they didn't know much English, we were able to communicate and still enjoy each other's company. All of us on both teams had such a great time just spending time with each other and getting to know each other.
There was one other thing thing today really stood out to me, today, too. I remember looking off into the distance on our way to Humacao and I saw this huge cross within the fog. It was probably one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. It was sitting high up on a hill. The trees around it were bent or fallen but the cross was perfectly fine. That cross seemed to symbolize how strong their faith was and how positive they are during these hard times.
We all talked about coming back and visiting again, and even though that might not happen, at least any time soon, I really hope we continue to strengthen our relationship with the Universidad de Puerto and their students and teams for many years to come.