Japan relief aided through Swampball

April 20, 2011

by Sherelle Black, STAFF REPORTER

While Bentley Hensel sat in class doing work, on the other side of the world, Japan was getting torn apart by an earthquake.

To some Japanese citizens, March 11 will always be remembered as one of the most traumatic and disastrous events since the bombing of Hiroshima. Japan suffered an 8.9 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami causing deaths and detrimental damage to the land and economy.

Hensel, a freshman finance major, said he knew he had to come up with a way to benefit Japan during its crisis.

“Japan is suffering,” he said. “They need our help. We need to help those less fortunate than ourselves. The disasters in Japan made a lot of people less fortunate than us.”

Hensel, a member of the Greek Academy, said the organization chose to host a mud volleyball tournament called Swampball to help Japan. This was their first event since being established on campus this year.

“We started meeting once a week after rush ended,” he said. “We have learned what it takes to be an on-campus leader, and we have had the opportunity to meet many of Tech’s administrators, including Dr. [Dan] Reneau. Basically, we are learning how to become better leaders, and this event is kind of like our final.”

Swampball was held April 15 at Tech Farm, where participants such as Charles Johnson said it was the perfect place for a mud pit.

“The fact that we get to play in the mud drew me into playing,” said Johnson, a senior business economics major. “You can never grow too old for that.”

Other participants such as Myriah Garaudy, a sophomore sociology major, said she decided to play because of the purpose of the event.

“I thought it was a really good idea,” she said. “I was very happy that they got more teams than they expected. At first, they had about 12 and [ultimately received] around 28.”

Besides the entry fee, participants and observers had other chances to contribute money to Japan by purchasing T-shirts and attending the after-party at 3Docs Brewhouse.

“We hope to send $1,200 to United Way Worldwide to be used in Japan,” Hensel said.

He also said they believe the tournament helped give some Tech students the push they needed to give back.

“Hopefully it will show that anyone can help anyone if they have the drive and desire,” he said. “This entire Swampball tournament was put together by freshmen and one sophomore. You don’t have to be special to make a difference; all you need is the desire to help.”

Other organizations at Tech are also contributing to Japan by hosting sports tournaments, such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers who will host a tennis tournament April 30 and May 1 at Tech’s tennis courts.

Hensel said students need to realize they are just as important as the older generations when it comes to making the world a better place.

“As college students, we are in a unique position,” he said.

“We have the power to choose what type of people we will become for the rest of our lives. If we start helping people now, hopefully by the time of graduation we will make a habit of it. We are also surrounded by people who are willing to help us make a difference.”

Email comments to scb035@latech.edu.