One of the most difficult aspects of Dave Dickerson's new reality occurs every day, when his 4-year-old son asks him the same question: "When are we going home?" Dickerson, in his first season as Tulane's head coach of men's basketball, won't be able to answer that question for the foreseeable future.
For now, the new home for Dickerson, the former Maryland player and nine-year Terrapins assistant, is College Station, Tex., where he and his team will be based for at least the fall semester, after Hurricane Katrina rendered use of their New Orleans campus impossible.
Dickerson's top priorities include the mental welfare of his players and making sure they enroll in classes and attain housing and a meal plan at Texas A&M, one of five schools in Texas and Louisiana that will host Tulane's athletic teams this semester.
"Every day is going to be a new day," Dickerson said in a teleconference yesterday. "And if we have enough good days, we have a good week. And if we have enough good weeks, we have a good month. Everything is a day-by-day situation."
All immediate family members of Tulane players have been accounted for and are doing well, Dickerson said. One player, Kory Castine, a native of Marrero, La., evacuated with his family, but his mother, Desiree, had to remain because she is a registered nurse. For about 48 hours, Castine and his family did not hear from Desiree until they eventually were reunited.
Castine and David Gomez, of Baton Rouge, are the only Tulane players from Louisiana. Neither of their families' homes suffered significant damage, Dickerson said.
Dickerson believes counseling for players and coaches is "imperative." He saw the benefits of therapy firsthand after dealing with another tragedy, the death of Maryland teammate Len Bias in 1986, as a college freshman.
"The emotional part is what we're trying to deal with now," Dickerson said. "And quite frankly, I think everyone needs to take a self-check and to take a realistic snapshot of where each other is, and I think I need to do that also."
On Wednesday night, Dickerson told his players, "Whenever you are in doubt about our situation, just step back and look at CNN and see what is happening in our city and the help that those people need, and that should put everything in perspective."
Dickerson's wife, Laurette, and son, Dave Dickerson III, are still in South Carolina. They will relocate to College Station and Dickerson's son will be enrolled in a school so he can interact with other children.
"We need each other now more than ever," Dickerson said, "and this is not the time for us to be apart."
-- Eric Prisbell