Members of the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team came home from a tournament in Sparks, Maryland this past weekend to find many of their cars had been destroyed by a flood.
While the team was playing the United States and Australian national teams, players and staff parked their cars at Finley Fields — an off-campus practice facility in Chapel Hill. But when they returned Sunday, the fields were flooded because of heavy rains brought by Hurricane Matthew.
Rick Steinbacher, UNC's senior associate athletic director, said the cars of four staff members, one student trainer and 14 players suffered major damages.
“It was hard to be there when the girls got off the bus and saw their cars,” Steinbacher said. “That wasn’t fun for anybody, to be there and see that it was your car or realize how disappointing that is.”
Some of the players first heard about the damaged cars late Saturday night. The next morning, Coach Jenny Levy held a team meeting with parents to discuss what to do.
“We were in Baltimore at the hotel in our rooms," senior Katie Kinsey said. "And one of our players got a picture, I’m not sure where from, but someone sent her a picture of Finley — and my car was one of the cars in the picture.”
Mark Steffer, superintendent of Finley Golf Course, said the golf course got 4.87 inches of rain from Hurricane Matthew.
“The rain started on Friday afternoon and continued all day Saturday into late Saturday evening, and that area was getting flooded,” he said.
“We had flooding issues behind the 12th green. The 13th tee complex was completely flooded and behind the 15th green — which is just adjacent to Finley Fields.”
Players and coaches were instructed to file insurance claims, which covered flood damages. The NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund was used to help pay for the cost of deductibles in the insurance policy.
The goal, Steinbacher said, was for students to not pay anything out of pocket for the damages. However, many students haven’t had cars since the flood and have relied on friends and scooters to get around.
North Carolina’s athletic teams will keep parking at Finley Fields in the future, but they will be more diligent about checking the weather beforehand to avoid flooding.
Kinsey said her coaches and the athletic department have handled a tough situation well. And Steinbacher said the women's lacrosse team has done the same.
“They are a great program and a great team who’s got usually a great attitude about everything," he said. "I think they’ve all pretty much realized, 'Stuff happens, let’s deal with it and move on.'”
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