On November 18, 1999 Aggies woke up in disbelief to the news that Aggie Bonfire had
fallen. It was the saddest day in Texas A&M history. But it was also one of the
proudest days for many Aggies, as the Aggie family stepped up to donate blood, food,
blankets, cell phones, money-whatever they needed to do to comfort those who were
Aggies were once again shocked on the morning of September 11, 2001, when terrorists
attacked the United States. The Aggie family again responded by raising nearly a
quarter of a million dollars and organizing an effort to "Red, White & Blue-Out"
Kyle Field-still one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen.
While it's obviously not on the same scale as the Aggie Bonfire collapse or
September 11, thousands of Aggies woke up to the unbelievable images of one of the
most gruesome sports injuries in Texas A&M history. Aggie hoops fan-favorite and
defensive standout Derrick Roland suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and
fibia, bending his lower leg nearly 90 degrees, and leaving 10,000 fans stunned at
Washington Arena, plus thousands more feeling queasy in front of their TV screens
But once again, without missing a beat, the A&M family did what they do best-be
there for another Aggie in time of need.
Once fans found out which hospital Roland was being taken to, it didn't take long
for them to discover an email program that could be used to send get-well wishes to
Roland. Aggies posted the email address on message boards and Facebook, and by early
morning, Roland had received more than 700 emails. The massive response forced the
hospital staff to ask that fans quit using the email address, as their server was
about to crash.
A&M basketball coach Mark Turgeon, who stayed in Seattle with Roland along with
Donald Sloan, said that the entire team, especially Roland and those left behind in
Seattle, was overwhelmed by the show of support from Aggies.
But letters were just the beginning.
Director of Student-Athlete Development Barry Davis, who rode in the ambulance with
Roland to the hospital, told one basketball staff member that as Roland was being
wheeled into surgery, a very friendly surgeon assured him that even though he was
thousands of miles from home, he would take care of him, because he was an Aggie,
What are the odds? You're in Seattle, Washington-about as far away from College
Station as you can possibly be without leaving the United States-and the surgeon
that is going to repair your leg graduated from Texas A&M.
While Roland was being attended to in Seattle, his aunt was trying desperately to
find a way to be with him but couldn't find a commercial flight because of the
holiday travel. When Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (who married into the Aggie
family) learned about the dilemma on Wednesday morning, he offered to have a private
jet take her to Washington as soon as possible.
Fortunately, A&M staff had already made arrangements for her, but apparently even
billionaires who marry into this crazy Aggie family seem to understand it as well.
The local Texas A&M Club (Western Washington TAMC) has also gotten involved as well,
offering to help in any way they can as the Roland family and basketball staff are
stuck in Seattle-possibly through Christmas.
While doctors are hopeful that Roland can be flown to Texas on Thursday, club
president Kevin Gifford, Class of 2003, said that the club will be there for
everyone who is stranded over the holiday and make sure they have a home cooked
Christmas dinner while they're away from their home and families.
"Nobody deserves to eat hospital food on Christmas, so we thought maybe the best
thing we could do is provide a home cooked meal. Just something to brighten it up so
it doesn't feel like you're spending Christmas in the hospital," Gifford said. "We
just wanted to make it clear to the athletic department, and to Derrick's family,
that we could do as much or as little as they needed. If they wanted their privacy,
we wouldn't be offended at all, but if they needed anything we were willing to
Lots of schools talk about a sense of family. But the Aggie family around the world
continually walks the walk.
For more information about sending a card or well wishes to Derrick Roland,
please visit www.aggieathletics.com/dro