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June 4, 2012College athletes don't have it as easy as some might imagine, there's a great deal of responsibility--on and off the playing field--that goes along with that athletic scholarship. However, having your basic needs met is rarely something a member of the Tennessee basketball or football has to give a great deal of thought to.
Meal plans, apparel allotments, housing stipends and even tutors are all part of the support system that's available for a scholarship athlete at the University of Tennessee and equivalent athletic departments all over the country.
This weekend members of the Vols' athletic squads got a chance to not only see how difficult day-to-day life is for some fellow Knoxville residents, they also got a chance to do something about it. As part of a Habitat for Humanity project, Tennessee athletes helped lay the groundwork this weekend for multiple houses that are in the process of going up and will soon house families in serious need of stable shelter.
"It was really a lot of fun, at first you might not be that excited about getting out there and doing it, but it was honestly a good time," Trae Golden said after he and the basketball Vols worked the morning shift at a construction site off of Martin Mill Pike on Saturday morning. "It's hard to imagine that less than 10 minutes from campus, where we kind of have this great little life, you have families that have to worry about having a roof over their head.
"Thinking about being able to help people out like that, just by taking a few hours out of your day, that's a great feeling."
The basketball team participated in a similar project last summer, taking part in four separate building days that saw a home through to completion and a family of four move in. In December the family was a guest of the Vols for the Pitt game, visiting with Cuonzo Martin and members of the team in what Director of Student Athlete Welfare Marco Harris described as a rewarding experience.
"It was great to visit with the family and just see the kind of impact it had on their lives," Harris said. "We have a good group of guys in our program anyway, but still it's great for them to get out of the kind of cocoon you can be in as a student-athlete and be a part of something like this. We get a ton of support from this community, being able to get out there, do something positive like this and give back is what it's all about."
When the Vols were finished with their shift on Saturday morning all four walls of the home were up. Four more 'work-days' will see the home get to the point where the specialists such as electricians and plumbers are called in to put the finishing touches on the job.
Jeronne Maymon took part in last year's house building efforts and had no problems getting motivated to take part again.
"After doing it last year we kind of knew what it was all about it and for me personally, I like doing it a lot," Maymon said. "We have a lot to be thankful for ourselves, getting a chance like this to give back and really do something that's going to be a big part of changing someone's life, it's great.
"I actually think because we did it last year we were kind of good at this time. I wouldn't say we're ready to go out and build a house, but I will say that the second time around things went a lot smoother. I think it's a great experience."
ON THE MEND
While it didn't limit their ability to swing a hammer this weekend, both Golden and Maymon are on the mend from offseason surgery. Both of them underwent procedures to repair a torn meniscus. Maymon actually had his surgery immediately after the Vols' season ended, but Golden worked through some leg pain for a month before doctors finally diagnosed him with the same injury that slowed Maymon in the last two weeks of the season.
"I really didn't know what was wrong with me for almost a month, I just knew that I was having a lot of soreness in my knee, didn't have the mobility I should have had and just felt like something was wrong," Golden said of the matter.
What originally seemed like a knee sprain was finally discovered to be a meniscus issue, much to Golden's relief. While it required that he go under the knife, it's not a procedure with a terribly long rehab time. He won't be ready to go full speed this Monday when summer workouts officially get underway, but he expects to get there soon.
"I'm pushing myself to get back as soon as possible, I think we're all excited about getting back to work this summer and taking the next step as a program," Golden said. "For me, the biggest thing was just finding out what was wrong with me and getting it fixed. It was a blessing that we found it and it wasn't anything more serious."
Maymon is two months into his own rehab and proclaims himself more than ready to hit the ground running.
"I'm all the way back, I don't have any soreness or swelling or anything like that. I'm ready to go," Maymon offered.