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Bulls trade in playbooks for blueprints

In the fall, Coach Jim Leavitt will ask that all of his football players give everything they can on the field and put the team ahead of themselves.

But this weekend, the team put the community — and one family in particular — before itself.

The Bulls, along with Habitat for Humanity and HomeBanc Mortgage Corporation, started building a house for a Tampa Bay family.

“We just felt like (as a team) we could do more in the community. So it’s just an opportunity to do more,” Leavitt said. He and his men assisted in the construction of the house at 9 a.m. on Saturday. He said it was halfway completed by the end of the day.

“All in all, we probably had about 40 to 45 players there and they did a fabulous job,” he said.

Leavitt said the main reason the Bulls got involved was to give back to the community. Any way the players benefited individually was secondary to the fact that the team was giving back, he said.

They put up support beams, worked on the house’s exterior and did some landscaping on the property in Wimauma, Leavitt said.

“Certainly each player and certainly each coach is going to benefit a great deal, because sometimes one of the most important things in our lives is to feel self-worth,” Leavitt said. “And one of the best ways to build your self-worth is to do things for other people. I think it’s a part of character building and I think it does help round out an individual’s life.”

The work they do on the football field can translate to helping others.

“Our guys understand what it is to work together and do things. There’s certainly something we can do here,” Leavitt said. “It’s a neat thing when you meet the lady and the kids that are moving into the house. They wanted to get a picture of our team and put it up in their living room. I thought it was kind of neat that she suggested that.”

Joe Wessel of HomeBanc approached Leavitt about the project.

“He likes to do some things in the community,” Leavitt said. “I’ve known Joe for a while and he’s done this with the University of Georgia and then he wanted to do this with us and the University of Miami.”

Habitat for Humanity has built more than 150,000 houses around the world. The HomeBanc Foundation has helped fund the construction of 22 Habitat homes in Florida and Georgia.