New England Soccer Today

Heaps Recalls Revs’ Post-Katrina Outreach

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Revolution were no strangers to New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in August 2005. So they made sure to return not long after to help the region heal.

Nearly a decade to the day after the storm made landfall in the city, Revolution coach Jay Heaps – who was the team’s starting right back during the mid-2000s – reflected on the team’s preseason journey to the hurricane-ravaged region.

“That was an interesting time because that was a part of our preseason,” Heaps said. “So we’re focused on the season, but at the same time, you get taken away from that when you see it.”

Prior to the 2007 season, the Revolution lined up a pair of preseason friendlies against Honduran side CD Olimpia and local PDL outfit New Orleans Shell Shockers. Both helped bring a sense of normalcy to the region, but it was what the Revolution did away from the pitch that certainly made the biggest impact.

After one of the team’s training sessions, the players were asked if they were interested in grabbing hammers and nails to help repair and rebuild some of the structures damaged by the storm. The answer was a unanimous yes.

“Going down there was really important and gave you some perspective,” Heaps said. “But then when we started to build homes, and you started to do that as a group, it made us stronger as a group because we built a home together. We helped clean out a damaged home to get it ready for a rebuild.”

While the rebuilding efforts paled in comparison to anything else they did during that preseason stop, there was a clear transference from that show of goodwill, both in the short term and in the long term, interestingly enough.

The team-bonding that Heaps alluded to only served to strengthen an already tight-knit core of players, and it paid dividends when the 2007 Revolution marched to their third-straight MLS Cup final eight months later.

But that wasn’t the only way in which the locals benefited from their post-Katrina trip to New Orleans. During last year’s MLS Cup final, Patrick Mullins assisted on Chris Tierney’s late equalizer to send the match to extra time. Prior to his time in New England, Mullins played for the New Orleans Jesters, nee’ the Shell Shockers, the same club that the Revolution helped return to its feet nearly a decade before.

For a squad that carried high expectations going into the 2007 season, the Revolution could’ve avoided New Orleans altogether, and no one would’ve batted an eye. Instead, they decided it was best to return, and embraced the opportunity to offer assistance to a region that needed as much of it as they could get.

“I think that those were some of the times where even though we were fully focused on the season, there were moments that can pull you in and give you some perspective,” Heaps said, “and that was certainly one of them in my career.”

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