STORRS, Conn. – The unusual October snow storm that struck Connecticut over the weekend has become an unwanted distraction for the UConn football team as it prepares to host Syracuse this week.
Members of the team's coaching staff are among the hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents without power. Coach Paul Pasqualoni said they have been focusing their time and energy on keeping their families safe and warm, and several have been living in hotels while waiting to have the power restored.
"You've got to take care of your family, that's for sure," he said. "That certainly doesn't make this week of preparation any easier for us."
Pasqualoni said he has opened up the team's football complex to the coaches' families to give them access to electricity and showers.
Meanwhile, the National Guard has been using part of the parking lot at the team's stadium, Rentschler Field in East Hartford, as a distribution point for emergency relief supplies. A similar operation in September in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene forced the program to postpone its season opener for two days.
But Col. John Whitford, a National Guard spokesman, said they are utilizing a more remote section of the former United Technologies airfield to ensure will not happen this week.
"We are set up at the end of one of the former UTC runways," he said. "We will not be impacting anything in regards to the UConn football game."
For Connecticut's players, the storm proved to be less of a distraction. Only part of the Storrs campus lost power, and just for a few hours.
"Even though we haven't been affected, there's been a lot of people affected by this," receiver Kashif Moore said. "There's a lot of cold homes and people are going through a lot of stressful situations, so I think it will be a good distraction for the fans to come out to the game and hopefully watch us win."
Quarterback Johnny McEntee said he got involved in a snowball fight Sunday, and took some ribbing from students about his throwing ability.
"It's all fun," said McEntee, who is from California, and said he plans to move back after he graduates. "I think I'm going to go back to the warmth and the sun."