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Student-athletes help their mentor with expensive recovery


By Jason Haddix




The IU Athletic Department creed, “The Spirit of Indiana: 24 Sports, One Team”, seems to hold true as Hoosier athletes rally around Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Tom Morris, who is recovering from a C6 spinal cord injury he sustained from a mountain bike accident on May 17.

Helping people is what Morris does for a living. He helps Hoosier student-athletes get bigger, faster and stronger.

Some of those he has helped in the past are now stepping up to help him.

“Tom and I have become very close over the past three or four years,” Caleb Konstanski, a senior on the men’s soccer team, said. “When this all happened I wanted to find a way to help him with some money.”

Konstanski presented the idea of printing t-shirts and selling them to raise money for Morris and his family. He contacted IU senior basketball player Jordan Hulls’ mother about getting the t-shirts made.

Bob Costello, owner of the Village Deli and Hulls’ uncle, is a long-time friend of Morris’. He organized a fundraiser that takes place tomorrow from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. at the Village Deli, 409 E. Kirkwood Ave.

All proceeds from food sales on Wednesday will go to help Morris and his family with their financial needs, Costello said. The Village Deli servers will also be donating any tip money they receive that day.

Also available for purchase on Wednesday at the deli will be “Tom’s Team” t-shirts and wristbands.

Hoosierman Triathlon

Following in Morris’ footsteps, Harrison Petts, a junior on the men’s soccer team, competed in the Hoosierman Triathlon on Sunday at the Fairfax State Recreational Area in Bloomington.

“Me and Tom had been training together for the Hoosierman Triathlon just before his accident,” Petts said. “My goal was to beat him in the race, and then once the accident happened I was trying to think of ways to help.”

Fundraising efforts at the Hoosierman were just over $2300, based on Petts’ finish. He completed the course in 59:39, finishing first in his age group and seventh overall out of 152.

During the swim, his adrenaline took over and caused him to swim at a faster pace than he would have liked, Petts said.

Once on the bike, he settled down. However, his legs felt heavy as he went into the running phase, which he said he ran slower than desired.

“I was a little bit nervous,” Petts said. “I was still happy I did it in under an hour, which was my goal.”

Why we help

Petts described Morris as a “big-brother figure” for the way he pushes him in workouts.

Morris taught Petts everything he knows about cycling, Petts said. He even helped Petts pick out the bike he rides now.

“We’re a lot alike. We love working out and doing the fitness stuff,” Petts said. “He became a mentor relationship to me, I really look up to Tom.”

Hulls also wanted to help out Morris because of their relationship.

“We have been able to form a pretty good relationship over the past four years,” Hulls said. “I am just trying to help out in any way I can for Tom.”

Due to NCAA regulations, student-athletes spend just as much time during the offseason, if not more, with a strength and conditioning coach as they do a member of their team’s regular coaching staff.

“I had been in there almost every day just to see him and to workout,” Konstanski said. “During the summer we are not allowed to be in contact with any of our coaches except him. So for three years straight, you form a relationship with them. I consider Tom as a friend, not just a coach.”

For more information on how to donate toward Morris’ recover, visit the family’s fundraising website, www.gofundme.com/toms-team.

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