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“Coach Cal” Visits the American Red Cross in Haiti

John Calipari, the men’s head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, met with Red Cross staff in Port-au-Prince today to discuss progress since the January 12th earthquake flattened much of the Haitian capital.

As one of the most successful coaches in college basketball, Calipari partnered with the American Red Cross’s Bluegrass Chapter in Kentucky to raise more than $1.2 million in a telethon for Haiti earthquake relief.

Traveling with Martin Newton, the University of Kentucky’s director of basketball operations, Royce Pulliam, the CEO of Global Fitness Holdings and owner of Urban Active Sports Clubs, and a television crew from station WKYT, “Coach Cal” visited an American Red Cross work site in the hills above the city. Standing in a steady drizzle, the group spoke with Country Director Matt Marek about how the Red Cross is helping Haitians – many of them living under tarps and tents after their homes were destroyed — prepare for the heavy rains and wind that will intensify over the course of hurricane season.

Marek explained that teams of Haitians living in spontaneous camps have been hired to dig drainage ditches, lay sandbags and gravel to try to lessen the impact of rain on deforested hillsides around the capital. He also spoke about American Red Cross programs in disaster preparation and health. The visitors had a number of questions for Marek, who has lived in Haiti for eight years, about his own experiences during and after the earthquake.

Calipari is the former head basketball coach at the University of Memphis and University of Massachusetts, as well as coach of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. He has authored several book, including “Refuse to Lose,” “Basketball’s Half-Court Offense,” and “Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and Life.”

From Julie Sell in Port-au-Prince, Haiti