WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYERS HELP KATRINA VICTIMS REBUILD
DURHAM, N.H.Julie O'Shaughnessy (Manchester, N.H.) and Ally Yost (Langhorne, Pa.), members of the University of New Hampshire women’s soccer team, spent spring break volunteering their time in Louisiana to help rebuild the lives of families who suffered detrimental losses from Hurricane Katrina.

O’Shaughnessy and Yost joined a number of athletes from both UNH and Franklin Pierce College in an effort to help restore the community of Buras, La. All participants were divided into several groups and given different projects to work on. O’Shaughnessy and Yost helped build a house from the ground up, while others re-shingled roofs, gutted houses and assisted in electrical wiring.

“I went to New Orleans in hopes of helping people start to rebuild their lives by giving them a home,” O’Shaughnessy said. “The trip was a life-altering experience for me.”

Yost agreed.

“It was honestly a life-changing experience," Yost said. "Everyone we came into contact with down there was so grateful and gracious and the sense of community and family that the people of New Orleans extended towards us is something that I will never forget.”

The group that both O’Shaughnessy and Yost were in actually had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the home they were building, an elderly woman they called Aunt Rose. Aunt Rose is the cornerstone of her family and her house is the place they gather for family events. Though many people are discouraged to come back to the area, by rebuilding her house Aunt Rose told the group that they were helping to reconnect her extended family, while also encouraging others to come back to Buras and rebuild as well. 

“Nothing will ever replace that feeling I had that day after Aunt Rose told us that,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Hurricane Katrina, which hit much of the north-central Gulf Coast in 2005, is considered one of the costliest and most deadly hurricanes in the history of the United States. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans.

“Many areas in and around New Orleans are still completely devastated and we don't hear or read about it in the news anymore,” O’Shaughnessy said. Added Yost, “It was shocking how much damage still remains down there almost three years later.”

O'Shaughnessy, who was recently selected as a captain for next’s year’s squad, played in all but two games for the Wildcats last season. In that time the junior forward notched two goals and two assists for a total of six points. Her season was highlighted by a three-point effort against the University at Albany on Oct. 7, where she earned the first goal of her career and assisted on a Michelle Sheehan (Belmont, Mass.) goal in the contest. A week later, O’Shaughnessy continued her stellar play as she scored the game-winning goal against the University of Vermont in a 2-1 win.

For second consecutive year, Yost won the Student Athlete Award, given to the player who has the highest grade point average during the traditional season of competition, at the team’s annual banquet in February. On the field, Yost played 10 games in net for the ‘Cats, posting four shutouts to go along with a 0.87 GAA and an .820 save percentage. Yost ranked 73rd and 77th in the country in those two respective categories.
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