Habitat for Humanity hosts first mud volleyball tournament
HURRICANE, W.Va.-- More than 40 people played volleyball in pits full of mud in Hurricane on Saturday to benefit the local Habitat for Humanity on its 25th anniversary.
"People have been getting muddy on our construction sites for years," Ken Adams, development director of Habitat for Humanity, said. "We wanted to open it up to everyone.
"They might not be swinging hammers, but they're still getting dirty," Adams said.
About 60 others came to watch the muddiness as popular music blared across the mud pits.
The event marked the 25th year that Habitat for Humanity, which uses volunteer labor to build affordable houses for low-income families, has worked in Kanawha and Putnam counties.
Some players waded through the mud, leaping enthusiastically into the water. Others seemed hesitant to get dirty.
Robert Ferrell, for example, brought a team from the NAPA Distribution Center. He spent the afternoon lunging for volleyballs and sending torrents of brown water towards his teammates, who emerged sopping, breathless and excited.
"There's a lot of enthusiasm out there," John Corrie, a construction volunteer and Habitat for Humanity board member, said.
Saturday was the first time that Habitat for Humanity had hosted a mud volleyball tournament in the area.
"This is brand new for us," Adams said. "It's something different that hasn't been done in West Virginia."
Many players enjoyed the novelty of the sport.
"I have played volleyball before and I have played in the mud, but never at the same time," said Bryan Escue, a player and a lawyer at Escue & Pritt.
Escue, who had heard about the event on the radio and gathered a group from his law firm, enjoyed watching the community come together to support a charitable cause.
"You don't get that too often anymore," Escue said.
As drenched players emerged from the mud pits, they discussed how important Habitat has been for the community.
Shawn Means, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Kanawha and Putnam County, has watched the organization grow over the last 25 years.
The organization has constructed 154 homes for low-income families throughout two counties.
But volunteers added that Habitat has contributed more to the community than just housing.
"Our homes are more than shelter," Adams said. "They are a foundation for families to grow."
Habitat, volunteers agreed, encourages struggling families to rebuild their lives.
"We build character and we build confidence," Corrie said.
Habitat volunteers have also benefited from the organization.
John Corrie retired from Dow Chemical 11 years ago, and has since formed strong friendships with other members of the construction crew that he works with every Wednesday.
He had thought that volunteering would just be a way to occupy his time, but Corrie soon grew to love the community that Habitat fostered.
"I love everyone," Corrie said. "We have a ball."
Habitat will continue to foster those relationships, but may have to modernize to keep up with a shifting housing market.
According to Means, property values have plummeted and younger generations no longer covet home ownership the same way they did fifty years ago, which means Habitat will have to adapt.
The organization has already begun to conduct more renovations of existing homes. Renovating, instead of building, homes might be the future of Habitat, Means said.
Habitat has also begun a concerted effort to build more homes around Putnam County, including a subdivision of twenty-four houses on North Hills Drive.
The mud volleyball tournament is an addition that could be here to stay.
Sarah Campbell, an onlooker, hoped that Habitat would host another mud-volleyball tournament soon.
"I hope it's an annual thing with a bigger turnout next year," Campbell said. Reach Laura Reston at email@example.com or 304-348-5112.