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Mary Hardin-Baylor basketball team holds camp in Uvalde for kids

The Crusaders made the trek south to try to help kids in a town still healing be kids, even if just for a day.
Credit: UMHB WBB
UMHB women's basketball coach Mark Morefield addresses a group of Robb Elementary students attending a basketball camp in Uvalde on July 11, 2022.

BELTON, Texas — There are 222 miles of highway between Mark Morefield's office in Belton and Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Yet, in the wake of a shooting that left 21 dead, 18 injured and a nation rocked in the face of another tragedy, the more than 3-1/2-hour drive didn't seem so long.

"I have an 8- and a 10-year-old son and you see this horrific event that happened to innocent kids," Morefield said. "We're just talking about innocent kids that are going and doing what they do every day and going to school. That just struck me."

Morefield is heading into his eighth year leading the women's basketball program at Division III University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He's no stranger to holding camps in the summer.

But none of them, when he woke up on May 24, were as meaningful as the one he'd have on his heart by the time he went to bed that night.

After watching the aftermath of the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook ten years ago, Morefield wanted to help.

"Those kids needed something to try to deviate from all of the horrific things that were happening," he said. "You try to figure out, 'How is it I can help? How can we provide them with something to just give them a break from what's going on in that community?'"

The next day, knowing he may not get a reply for weeks, he began emailing anyone and everyone at the school district and a small junior college in a town he'd driven through, just a couple times, to try to help.

His goal was to provide a distraction to kids who'd just survived something so evil and let them be kids, even if just for a few hours.

"Maybe two or three weeks after the incident, Southwest Texas Junior College had gotten back to me and said, 'We love this idea. We're trying to think of something. Let us get through some situations and figure out some logistics on what needs to be done,'" Morefield said.

So, July 11, one of his assistant coaches and three of his current and former players helped kids in Uvalde escape it all with the camp he'd been planning for almost two months. Basketball made up the first day of a kids camp at SWTJC for 2nd-5th graders at Robb Elementary School.

It wasn't meant to be an instructional camp, like the ones he hosts inside Mayborn Campus Center. 

"We weren't going down there to get attention or say, 'This is how UMHB women's basketball does it,'" Morefield said. "The whole point was to go down there for the children, just to give them a reprieve."

What he and his team saw there was eye-opening.

Whether it was messages of anger toward law enforcement on the sidewalks to the large presence of law enforcement still there seven weeks after the shooting, it became clear that Uvalde is still healing.

"There's, obviously, still a heavy presence of things happening there," Morefield said. "And they still need that break."

It's not the end of what the "Cru" have planned. Morefield is working with UMHB athletic director Mickey Kerr on another opportunity to help the kids in Uvalde.

This time, he wants to take the whole team on the 222-mile road trip to help a town continue to heal from something so unthinkable.

"These children have seen things that humans shouldn't have to see," Morefield said.

You can watch the full interview with Morefield below.

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