Originally, Saturday was supposed to be the football season opener between I-10 rivals the McNeese Cowboys and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
2020 had other plans, as the Cowboys season has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Less than two weeks ago, Hurricane Laura ripped through Lake Charles, devastating the community.
So compassion replaced competition, as UL athletics delivered supplies to those in need.
“It’s bigger than football here,” Louisiana junior center Shane Vallot says. “It’s not all about playing a game here. These guys probably won’t be able to play a season here. They probably got their season pushed back. This is big for them. This truck is fully loaded. We were just in there. We got a lot to unpack. but I’m excited to help out this community.”
“It’s mainly about all the support, supporting Louisiana,” Louisiana senior quarterback Levi Lewis says. “We’ve got each others back, and that’s what we want to let them know.”
A semi-truck was filled with supplies, donated by the University of Louisiana community, UL athletics, and even alumni from out of state.
After seeing a neighbor in need, sports…as always…became the greatest unifier.
“Athletics unites people,” University of Louisiana director of athletics Dr. Bryan Maggard says. “You have two teams who were supposed to be facing off with each other, now they’re helping one another out. I think it just speaks volumes to what sports can do in our society. Certainly, it speaks volumes today.”
The Cajuns are less than a week away from their season opener against Iowa State, but the preparations were put on pause to help the people of southwest Louisiana.
The team still had practice Saturday, but it was pushed back later in the evening so that the guys had the opportunity to help in the aftermath of a disaster so many of the local players are all too familiar with.
“We’ve got a lot of players that have experience with hurricanes in the past,” Louisiana football head coach Billy Napier says. “They realize what these people are going through. I think in general our guys feel like this is an opportunity to help people.”
“Passing through Lake Charles, we saw a lot of damage,” Vallot says. “It’s very heartfelt. Like I said the other day, what if it happened to us? Seeing all the damage, this really means a lot.”