Written by: Esra Hashem, University Brand Strategy and Marketing
Racine Babb was with her teammates at Wahoo’s restaurant when she got the call.
“My roommate called me and she’s like, ‘Where are you?’” Racine says. “Yelling frantically, she said, ‘The apartment’s on fire.’”
The three-alarm fire occurred in mid-August across the street from Fresno State’s campus, south of Shaw at Backer Avenue. Racine is one of several students who was displaced by the apartment fire.
“When I got there, you could see all the smoke and it was super hard to breath.”
“We could see people still trying to get out of the apartments next to us. They were using a ladder that was in our backyard and we were trying to help people get out.”
Racine was grateful to see her roommate safe but remained in shock. She recalls firefighters pointing a water hose directly toward her room, but didn’t quite process that everything she owned was in flames.
“Then I just lost it and I cried and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I literally don’t have anything,’” Racine says.
Racine drove home to her parents’ home in Caruthers that night. Waking up the next morning, she tried to face the day ahead. She attempted to brush her teeth before remembering she lost her toothbrush in the fire.
“Then I thought, ‘Well, at least I can change my clothes.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t have that either,’” Racine says. “So, I literally drove to [soccer] practice in the stuff that I was wearing that night … It was difficult.”
A few days later, Racine returned to the apartment to see if she could salvage any of her belongings. All she found among the melted items and soot was her Bible, smelling of smoke and worn from water damage.
“I’m a faithful person,” Racine says. “God just let me know that it was going to go up from there and that I wasn’t alone.”
Growing up in small-town Caruthers, Racine wanted to be part of the Fresno State community from a young age. She recalls seeing her sister play soccer for Fresno Pacific University — but admits she always secretly wanted the Bulldogs to win. Then, after a game during Racine’s senior year of high school, Brian emailed her on behalf of Fresno State.
“I remember looking at my phone and running through the house screaming because I was so excited,” she says. “I was like, ‘What? No way!’ Because I’ve always wanted to play at Fresno State. I’ve always wanted to be a Bulldog.”
Brian says Racine is a clever player who supports the entire team.
“Racine brings such great warmth and joy to the team. She is extremely reliable and really strives to be the ultimate teammate. She’s sharp witted and super funny, but also knows when it’s work time, and her humility is admirable,” he says. “We are lucky to have this type of local Bulldog and local Bulldog family as part of our program.”
Caring for the Valley
When Racine isn’t on the soccer field, she’s studying to become an elementary school teacher. For three years, she worked with the non-profit organization Care Fresno, where she mentored youth in under-resourced communities.
“She really invests all that she has into these kids,” says Carissa Gomez, educational programs and events manager for Care Fresno. “She creates an environment where kids feel safe and are excited to learn.”