Community rallies to Head Coach Katie Vaughn after house fire

Support from the UMSL community has bolstered Head Women’s Basketball Coach Katie Vaughn and her family after their home burned down on Jan. 24. (Photo courtesy of Athlete's Eye Photography)

Support from the UMSL community has bolstered Head Women’s Basketball Coach Katie Vaughn and her family after their home burned down on Jan. 24. (Photo courtesy of Athlete’s Eye Photography)

An outpouring of support from the University of Missouri–St. Louis community – especially the basketball team – friends and even strangers has sustained Head Women’s Basketball Coach Katie Vaughn and her family in the wake of a fire that burned her home to the ground on Jan. 24.

Little remains after the devastating house fire. (Photo courtesy of Katie Vaughn)

“People pop in or call or drop off money,” Vaughn said. “The support doesn’t stop. We’re still getting Facebook messages and people wanting to help, from churches to schools. People we don’t even really know or have a strong relationship with. Those are the moments that have stuck out to me at this point. Just going wow – there is a lot of good in this world.”

Shortly after the fire, Vaughn’s aunt started a GoFundMe page with a goal of $5,000. Within days, gifts had more than doubled that number, and nearly $15,000 has been donated at this time. Though Vaughn is grateful that insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding the house, her family has lost almost everything that they own.

“The insurance covers what you had, but it doesn’t replace what you had,” Vaughn said. “I have two young kids, so everybody on the team has helped support them with little gifts here and there to make them feel as if they have something and keep it as normal as we can.”

A close friend has taken the Vaughns in while they figure out their next steps. (Photo courtesy of Katie Vaughn)

A close friend has taken the Vaughns in while they figure out their next steps. (Photo courtesy of Katie Vaughn)

The call that her house was on fire came when the team was getting ready to play Lewis University in Illinois. Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach Emily Samuelson helped Vaughn rent a car, and she sped back to her home and family.

By the time she’d returned, there was little left of her house. Investigators think it was probably an electrical fire that started in the basement, but she’ll likely never know for certain. A close friend helped her family negotiate the chaos of that day and then took them in.

“It was horrific,” Vaughn said. “It was one of the worst phone calls you could probably get. I left the team abruptly, but they handled it very well and continued on with the task that they needed to do, even with all of this happening.”

Vaughn is proud of how the Tritons went on to win against the top-ranked team despite the shakeup. As she’s been dealing with the trauma and chaos surrounding the fire, she’s taken comfort in the family dynamic at work and the time spent with her players.

“For them to step up and be able to handle this says lot about them,” Vaughn said. “These young ladies are tough and strong. They’ve grown and matured through this process with us.”

Media coverage
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
KSDK

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