Glenn Shinaberry
Staff Writer

Lost keys, lost purse, lost house may be quickly becoming a reality for Tennessee freshman soccer player Casey Crawford.
A native of Mandeville, La., about 35 miles north of New Orleans, Crawford has experienced a roller coaster of emotions over the last 10 days.
Passing Crawford on campus last week would have given one no more than an eye’s glimpse of the storm on her mind. For the last week, Crawford has been trying to balance her focus between soccer and adjusting to college life. Now she’s adjusting to the idea of not having a home.
Crawford, a part of UT’s freshman class that was ranked in the top five nationally, is one of a handful of freshmen seeing playing time for the defending SEC regular-season champions. An all-state and all-metro player, Crawford was tabbed as the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2005.
Off the field, things aren’t going as well for Crawford right now. The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina became known immediately for Crawford as she was not able to contact her family until a few frustrating days after the hurricane hit the coast.
“I was worried, just very upsetting, just praying,” she said.
When Crawford was able to contact her immediate family, she found her prayers had been answered as her family had not been injured, but the same could not be said for her neighborhood.
Crawford’s house survived the storm, but as for going back to Mandeville and New Orleans where she was born, it’s “just going to be different,” she said.
“I knew (the city) very well, being I was born there.”
Crawford will not see the fallout until returning home after the semester.
Until then, Crawford will rely on a new family to help support her and relieve the stress associated with something literally hitting so close to home. As for the team, the disaster only strengthened an extremely strong bond.
“Everybody was concerned about making sure she was OK,” said freshman defender and roommate Sarah Van Sickle.
With only six returning players from last season, Crawford’s ability to remain focused will be tested throughout the season.
“She’s such a strong person,” Van Sickle said. “Being able to perform defines what a great person she is.”