ORONO, Maine — Numerous student-athletes at the University of Maine found themselves focusing more on the weather than on schoolwork and their respective sports during the past few days.
UMaine features numerous student-athletes from the New York-New Jersey area, so there were some tense moments for some Black Bears as Hurricane Sandy swept through the region Monday and Tuesday.
Most of the UMaine athletes who hail from New York and New Jersey are on the football team. There are 23 players from New Jersey and 13 from New York, along with two from Delaware, which also stuck by the storm.
Coach Jack Cosgrove said the storm created considerable worry among the people who have family and friends in those places.
“The only other situation that really even comes close to this was 9/11, where we had so many young men who were residents of New York, Long Island, and some had family that were in and around the area,” Cosgrove said.
“It kind of snaps you back to reality, that as important as being a student-athlete and playing football is, there’s some other things out there that you’ve got to pay attention to,” he added.
Cosgrove’s family in Boston had Sandy-related issues.
“They didn’t have their power all night last night,” he said. “There’s all sorts of concerns out there at this time of year with the storm that’s running through here.”
Even with the hurricane having left a swath of destruction in and around metropolitan New York, on Long Island and along the Jersey shore, UMaine athletes are happy to have little to report.
“My brother’s a firefighter in Harlem and he said he had a pretty busy night with a lot of calls, but he said he’s going to be able to make it back home later [Tuesday night], so we’ll see,” said UMaine men’s hockey senior tri-captain , who lives in Long Beach, N.Y., on Long Island.
Diamond said the basement at his parents’ home was flooded, but there did not appear to be any other issues.
“Obviously, it’s sad to see and hear stuff like that when there are a lot of people back home,” he said. “As long as everyone’s all right, no one really got hurt, that’s the main concern.”
Freshman running back Nigel Jones hails from Pleasantville, N.J., which is adjacent to Atlantic City, N.J., an area that experienced extensive water damage and had to be evacuated.
“It’s bad. There’s a lot of flooding in the middle of the city,” said Jones, who has a lot of friends in Atlantic City. “There’s boardwalks floating in the city right now.”
Five minutes away, his family rode out the storm without any significant issues.
“Everything’s fine, just a little house damage,” Jones said of shutters being blown off the house. Even so, he was concerned during the storm.
“I couldn’t contact them for a while and I was kind of nervous, [thinking] what’s going on?” he added.
Jones’ extended family is no stranger to natural disasters as he has many relatives in New Orleans who lived through Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Matt Wilson lives in Freeport, N.Y., on Long Island. His family also escaped Sandy with minimal damage.
The Wilsons live about 10 blocks from the ocean, but are on a hill.
“We’ve never had flooding. That wasn’t a concern,” said Wilson, who said one of his uncles did have some sewage back up into his basement.
“They had power most of the night [Monday] and we were talking with them. They were pretty safe,” Wilson said.
However, some of his former high school friends had to be evacuated from oceanside homes.
Nick Pryor, a senior defenseman for the UMaine men’s hockey team, kept close tabs on his family in Cherry Hill, N.J., not far from Philadelphia.
“We have two dogs at home. Actually, they couldn’t even get the dogs outside [to relieve themselves]; really small dogs,” Prior said, alluding to the possibility of the animals being blown away.
“[It was] pretty scary and [I’m] kind of glad to hear that everyone’s OK, at least my family,” Pryor said.