By Russ Green, Senior Staff Writer
The Richmond Lady Spartan volleyball players accomplished more than just improving their games on the court last week in southern Missouri.
Fifteen members of the Lady Spartan squad, along with assistant coach Brandon Stevenson and head coach Rachael Begamann, attended a team summer camp in Licking, but before work on the court began, they spent a couple of days in Joplin.
Even though it has been almost 15 months since an EF5 tornado tore through the heart of Joplin, help is still needed to help the area get back on its feet.
The Lady Spartans did their part as they painted the caps on fire hydrants around the damaged areas. The caps are painted red, yellow or green to help firefighters know what kind of pressure is available should they need to use them in an emergency.
Richmond’s efforts were set up through Americorps, a group from St. Louis that helps organize several different types of relief activities throughout Joplin. The Lady Spartans painted the hydrants Tuesday through Thursday, July 24 to 26, before beginning the weekend summer camp.
Begemann said her girls enjoyed helping out the people of Joplin, and said it was still hard to find their way around different areas of town.
“A lot of street signs have not been put up or re-marked, so it was kind of hard to find a lot of them,” she said. “It’s ridiculous how much has not been put back. They gave us street maps, but the signs weren’t there, so we had to rely on our GPS systems on our phones to find some of them.”
Coach Begemann said it was a great bonding experience for the team. In addition to getting some valuable time in on the volleyball court, it also provided a way to the team to give back. The team also found time to make its way around town and see the damage. Begemann said the girls also visited a memorial that has been erected since the tornado and viewed some of the new houses that were constructed by the Extreme Home Makeover television show.
Other groups in the area performed community service such as cleaning up debris, raking gravel, among other activities.
After helping paint fire hydrants, the Lady Spartans moved on to Licking for the team camp, where Begemann said the team played very well. They won two matches in pool play – one against Cassville and one against Gentry, Ark.
“We had one split and all of our losses were within a couple of points,” Begemann said. “We were right there with them in the end. It was pretty exciting seeing that momentum toward the end of the match, and we have never seen that here before.”
The first day for fall practices is Aug. 6 and Begemann adds they are ready to get the new season started.