Thirteen members of the Fort Hays State Football team traveled to Greensburg, Kansas, on May 10, 2007, to help Shawn Starr,
alumnus of the team, clean up after the devastating tornado hit his hometown.
Starr is the Athletic Director at Greensburg High School. He also teaches Physical Education and is the Weightlifting Coach there.
Starr played at FHSU in 1994 and 1995 as a middle linebacker. In 1995, the team made the NCAA Division II National Playoffs and played at
Starr’s home was destroyed on May 4 when an EF5 tornado struck the town of Greensburg. Coach A.J. Blazek tells of how the team
got involved with helping Starr, “I was watching the weather and called him before it hit. After it hit, I followed up to make sure he was OK. We
saw each other on Saturday morning at Wal-Mart and he was in a large Army t-shirt and I told him we would get some clothes together for him.
In two days, our coaches and players gathered 3 huge boxes of everything from tennis shoes, to gym shorts, to dress shirts and leather
jackets. It was amazing what our players did for an ex-Tiger that they never knew or played with."
Blazek continued saying, “Five days after the tornado, Shawn called me and asked for some players to help clean up his
neighborhood. Within an hour, Cody Witte and Cody Engle had gathered 13 team members to leave first thing Thursday morning. It was a true
testament to the players in our program.”
Once the players arrived they were put right to work. “The players helped me pick up debris from my yard and the neighbors’ yards
and move it to the curb so clean up crews could load it to haul it away. The help they provided was much appreciated and just shows you the
type of character athletes FHSU wants in their football program,” Starr said.
This experience was an important one for the team members as well. “I was more than willing to go down and help Mr.Starr and the
other residents of Greensburg. In a disaster like this they needed as much help as they could get,” Ty Brunswig, junior defensive lineman said.
“Seeing it on television is one thing, but seeing it in person helped me realize the actual extent of the damage.”
“I was glad the team got to go help Mr.Starr. I’ve seen tornado damage before but seeing the whole town destroyed was a very eye
opening experience. It felt great to help an alumnus out and I hope that he can recover from the devastation,” added junior linebacker, Cody
“It was a chance to help a community in such great need. By giving a helping hand to clean up, it is one less thing they had to worry
about so they can focus their time and efforts to other things,” said Kyle Flax , junior defensive back.
For senior running back Jordan Hickel, this was all too familiar. “It was an experience like no other, I was there when the Hoisington
(Kan.) tornado hit and that doesn’t even compare to what we saw that day. It was amazing to witness.”
Starr shows his gratitude by saying, “Neither words, nor actions can explain how much the Tiger football program has helped me and
my family through this tough ordeal. I want everyone to know that the FHSU football program in setting a great example to follow and for others
to want to be part of.” He concluded saying, “The city of Hays should be proud to cheer for this team, and the coaches who help build the
character and strong values these young men have shown. Once again I would like to thank all the men who helped in Greensburg and to the
coaching staff for everything they have done as well!”
May 23, 2007
Below are the 13 Tiger Football players involved in the clean up effort....
Cody Engle, Jr., LB, Ellinwood, Kan.
Cody Witte, Sr., WR, Winfield, Kan.
Jordan Hickel, Sr., RB, Claflin, Kan.
Charlie Carr, So., DL, Elk City, Okla.
Casey Larsen, Jr., OL, Salina, Kan.
Ty Brunswig, Jr., DL, WaKeeney, Kan.
Adam Jones, So., TE, Peabody, Kan.
Casey Dallas, R-Fr., FB, Salina, Kan.
Ryan Quimby, Fr., WR, Sublette, Kan.
Mark Moss, Jr., RB, Denver, Colo.
Kyle Flax, Jr., DB, Salina, Kan.
Corey Stiles, Sr., LB, Claflin, Kan.
Drew Steffen, Fr., WR, Hays, Kan.
-Story by Courtney Schoendaler, FHSU Sports Information Student Assistant