East Texas College Athletes Worried About Hometowns Hit By Katrina

Hurricane Katrina is taking its toll on East Texas college athletes who call Louisiana and Mississippi home.
Many said their worries are making it tough to keep their noses in the books and play on the field.
"Every tree in my yard is uprooted, the whole neighborhood is just a disaster. Power lines laying across the street," said TJC soccer forward Tony Judice.
Tony's thoughts are on his hometown not far from Baton Rouge.
"I still have a grandfather and a cousin that decided to stay back," Tony said. "I don't know where they are, can't get in touch with them."
There were several similar stories from other college athletes making a future here in East Texas. They're hometowns are now under water. Family and friends missing.
Juan Rodriguez's parents and three siblings made it to Tyler just before the storm hit.
"We don't even know if we have a house still," Juan said.
Juan said he's grateful for his family's safety, but his father, like thousands of others, has no job to return to.
"You think about it, its not going to be the same, everything is going to change," he said.
Mississippi native, soccer coach Steve Clements, has received call after call from former players, all victims of Katrina.
"I guess its my job to give the pep talk but I was so emotional listening to these stories I don't know how good of a job I did," coach Clements said.
Athletes said they will try to keep their focus on the field and in the classroom. But, they like the rest of the country, are hoping to heal soon.
"I always will have the thought in the back of my mind," Tony said. "But I just got to be strong about it. Just go out there and perform."
To help ease evacuees home sickness, TJC will allow anyone with an out of state license in to home events for free.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com