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Hurricane Harvey leaves mark on Rice and UTEP players

Gaby Velasquez
UTEP running back Kevin Dove will use his family’s losses in storm as the motivation the rest of the season.

Saturday’s matchup between Rice and UTEP felt like more than just a game with the recovery efforts going on in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Rice head coach David Bailiff and his squad were 8,500 miles away in Australia, playing their first game of the season when the hurricane hit in Houston. When they came back, they couldn’t go back home. Instead, they used TCU’s facilities to practice for the entire week leading up to the game at UTEP.

This is when football became more than just a game for the individuals affected. They used football as an outlet to escape from everything going on back home.

“We’ve had 12 of our players lose everything,” said Bailiff, who had been offered to stay at SMU, TCU, UTEP and East Texas while they waited out the storm. “We have about 26 vehicles that are flooded while we were out of town. It has been heartwarming to see the response of people to help just not us, but the entire city of Houston.”

It wasn’t just the city of Houston that was overwhelmed by the flooding from the catastrophic storm, which was the heaviest tropical downpour in the nation’s history. The after effects from Hurricane Harvey even reached players on the Miners’ team.

“We’ve got players on our own team that have issues in Houston. We’ve got one kid, Kevin Dove, who had horses back there and lost every single horse in their horse farm,” said UTEP head coach Sean Kugler. “Our thoughts go out to David Bailiff and his team. I can’t imagine some of the things that they’re going through.”

Dove, who sees the field frequently as the No. 2 running back, has been playing with the thoughts of his family back home in El Campo, Texas.

“It is hard being here while they’re over there,” he said. “The other day I kept calling my mom and asking, ‘mom, are you okay?’  multiple times. She said, ‘yeah, we’re good, don’t worry about us—just make sure you keep playing football.’ I still kept calling and calling her anyways, but she says she’s fine. Now it’s gotten to the point where I call her so much that she doesn’t pick up the phone. They’re okay though.”

Born in Wharton and raised in El Campo—less than an hour and a half from Houston—his family has received immense help from the community.

“It’s going pretty good right now,” he said. “My coaches back home from high school have gotten together and helped my parents out a lot. They lost their house in the flood. People I’ve interacted with throughout the years playing football have come together and helped my mom. So they’re good.”

He calls a couple times a day just to make sure his house is okay and things haven’t gotten worse. Hurricane Harvey and the flooding became added fuel for Dove to step up his play.

“It kind of pushes me more knowing what my town is going through,” he said. “The people back home, they see me on TV and it gives them some happiness. That gives me a little more push.”

Dove isn’t your typical running back either. He’s the big man who punches the ball in on third and short situations for the offense. Averaging 3.0 yards per carry,  it’s the role that he’s learned to embrace.

“It’s basically just, get the first down mentality,” he said. “Get in, play big boy football and run the ball directly down to get the first down.”

And against Rice, Dove was able to reconnect with an old high school teammate from El Campo. Starting offensive lineman Trey Martin was able to sympathize with Dove, having been raised in the same town that experienced the flood.

“Where he’s from, it wasn’t flooded, but the school is messed up,” Dove said. “We kept in touch and talk about football when we can. He was my center during high school, so we have some history.”

All Dove can do now is continue to play the sport he loves, which his mom relentlessly encourages he doesn’t stray away from. He’s optimistic about the rebuilding process and trusts that his role is to remain in school and continue his duties.

Dove and the Miners will play against Arizona on Friday, Sept. 15 at the Sun Bowl. The game will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. MT.

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About the Contributors
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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Hurricane Harvey leaves mark on Rice and UTEP players