Tennessee first-year football coach Butch Jones has been trying to teach his team how to build a successful program.
This summer, many of his players also learned how to construct another American dream — a home that is privately owned.
For eight Saturdays this summer, they helped Knoxville Habitat for Humanity and other volunteers build a house for the family of Drocella Mugorewera and Jean Nkurunziza on Anniversary Drive.
And they seemed to enjoy the rewards of this building project as well.
“It was great to work with Christ and work with this family in the community,” said senior offensive lineman Zach Fulton of being involved with the Christian-based non-profit group that uses volunteers to build homes for qualified families or individuals.
Fulton and 11 of his teammates were at the completed home near Holston Hills Thursday afternoon along with Jones and UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek for the official dedication.
Although Jones had to leave shortly after touring the home and posing for pictures, and the team members left immediately after the ceremony due to their tight preseason camp schedule, their brief appearance still touched quite a few people.
“The fact that Coach Jones took time to come out here, I am thrilled to see that kind of support,” said former UT kicker Fuad Reveiz, who serves on the Habitat board of directors and presented the new owners with a Bible.
Cheek was impressed as well.
“It’s an indication of the character of our football team to come out and spend time working on a house like this and also to come out during practice — two-a-days — and be here with the family,” the chancellor said.
Mugorewera was touched as well by how a number of players took part over the various Saturdays to help in the construction of her family’s new home.
“It was very exciting,” she said. “They were hard workers and we had a good time with them and learned a lot.”
Like many of the players, she and her husband have a story worthy of a highlight reel. A former member of the Rwandan parliament, she had to flee the unstable African nation more than four years ago.
Her husband, children and other family members eventually joined her, and they have slowly built a productive life in Knoxville while overcoming the various cultural and language barriers.
And Thursday, she seemed as happy as the Tennessee team might be after a big win.
“Having a new house with the support of all the volunteers and sponsors, it is really exciting,” she said. “Now we can say we are going home.”