Rival athletes find common ground helping family

Rival athletes find common ground helping family »Play Video
Oregon and Oregon State student-athleted share stories: Heather Meyers (right) and Elyse Okada wait for lunch while volunteering for Habitat For Humanity in Harrisburg, Oregon on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

HARRISBURG, Ore. - The early Saturday morning hour.

The rain.

Even the prospect of working alongside their college rivals.

None of it was enough to keep student-athletes from Oregon State University and the University of Oregon from coming together to help complete a Habitat For Humanity home in Harrisburg, Ore.

“It’s helping the community and it’s a lot of fun,” said Alex Wolff, a sixth-year senior javelin thrower for the University of Oregon track and field team. “We did this event six years ago with a joint effort with Oregon State. We came out to Habitat For Humanity and helped build a house, and it’s taken a hiatus for the last five years and we got it put back together this year. Hopefully it will continue.”

Beavers and Ducks put down mulch and sawdust in the backyard, constructed planter boxes and birdhouses and assembled a play structure for the child of the family who’s moving in.

“Really we’re here in Harrisburg because of the connection between Oregon State and Oregon,” said Matt Geschke, the Director of O Heroes, the University of Oregon athletic department’s organization overseeing student-athletes’ active involvement within the community. “It was a great middle ground.”

Harrisburg is halfway between Eugene and Corvallis along Highway 99. Geschke said it’s rare for student-athletes from both school to come together for a common project, but that the goal will be to find more unifying undertakings in the future.

Brittany Galindo, a junior on the Oregon State women’s soccer team, said this is the first time she’s volunteered for Habitat For Humanity. “What I’ve learned about it, it’s a great cause and I’m really happy that I’m here.”

Despite the on-field rivalry, the spirit was mutually amiable by everyone involved. “Obviously it’s great to work with the Beavers, but I guess we can can put one day aside to be friends with the Ducks,” said Galindo.

“It’s really nice to put the rivalry stuff aside for one day and come out and help the community,” said Wolff.