Women’s basketball practices team-building, house-building skills

Spinnaker

Building a house and building a team are two things UNF women’s basketball are familiar with doing. Literally. 

The team recently took a day to help Habitat for Humanity Jacksonville March 27 to frame the last of a series of 14 homes in the building process in Jacksonville.

HabiJax is a locally based organization which aims to help improve the lives of those who yearn to live in a home but may have difficulties accomplishing that goal. The nationally recognized organization also seeks to establish neighborhoods around the homes they build in order to help these areas grow into communities. HabiJax so far has helped more than 1,750 families fulfill their dream of home ownership in the Jacksonville area alone. 

Despite HabiJax’s success over the years with many volunteers, the UNF women’s basketball team proved themselves as helping hands when it comes to construction projects. The team took an entire Saturday to help build the frame of a home which will eventually belong to a Jacksonville woman.

The woman and her relatives helped alongside the athletes to assist the labor-intensive project, which only a short midday lunch break interrupted.

“It was cool because we [the team] were out there, right alongside the woman, and we could really see how involved she was, how much she cared about the work we were doing,” said junior guard Brittany Kirkland.

She later remarked the experience was not only rewarding but also fun for all those involved, yet the members of the UNF women’s basketball team are no strangers to giving back to the community.

Besides their most recent efforts with HabiJax, the team and staff participate in around four volunteer events annually. One of these events included participating in a fall event to help create a Halloween party for the children of

Shands Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville.

The UNF Athletics Department maintains no requirement for any of its athletes to participate in such outreach around Jacksonville, but head women’s basketball coach Mary Tappmeyer insists that this type of volunteering is essential for her athletes.

“The girls learn to understand that if they want community support, they need to support the community,” Tappmeyer said.

The concept appears to be one that helps the women’s basketball players not only in building their character but also in realizing just how fortunate they are to be college athletes.

The HabiJax event made one player’s experience even more unique. As an elementary education junior, point guard Juliemay Syquio devotes some of her studies to assisting children at a school downtown.

The school she visits weekly is right around the corner from where she helped frame the house just a few Saturdays ago. She was amazed to find out that many of the kids she works with live in the neighborhood by the HabiJax homes.

“It was really eye-opening for me to know that the people you are helping may be your future pupils in your class,” Syquio said.

Though their basketball season didn’t end with a conference championship win, the members of the UNF women’s basketball team understand that in some aspects of life, everybody can win.