A Year Later, WVU Baseball Visits Site of Oklahoma Tornadoes - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

A Year Later, WVU Baseball Visits Site of Oklahoma Tornadoes

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MORGANTOWN - A year ago, Randy Mazey did the only thing he could think of as tornadoes tore through Oklahoma just miles from where he and the West Virginia baseball team were staying for the Big 12 Tournament.

He rallied his players together and told them he intended to do all he could in order to help the victims of the devastating storm and anyone who wanted to tag along was welcome to do so.

Every member of the team packed into the bus to gather supplies from a local Wal-Mart and after the Mountaineers’ time in the tournament came to an end, they stayed behind to help clean up the homes that lay in ruin throughout the city of Moore.

Tuesday marks the anniversary of the tornadoes and Mazey and his team are back out in Oklahoma City preparing for another conference tournament, set to begin on Wednesday. Before they focus their attention solely on the baseball that brought them back, the Mountaineers will visit Moore to see how the town has progressed in the past year.

“It’ll be good for our guys to go and see what I’m sure is an amazing amount of progress those people have made in a year based on what we saw the last time,” Mazey said. “That’ll be good to see those people and see how they’ve cleaned that place up. I’m looking forward to getting over there.”

The players and coaches are especially excited to see Mark and Katrina Ellerd, a couple who first met the Mountaineers when they came to help clean off the lot that had once been their home.

The Ellerds had always been Oklahoma Sooners fans, but when WVU came to Norman earlier in the season, they showed up supporting the people who had done so much for them at such a difficult point of their lives: The Mountaineers.

Mark had a chance to speak with the team following one of the games as he and his wife have adopted the old gold and blue colors as they start over from the life they once knew.

Much like the Ellerds have begun sporting a new logo, Mazey has one on his helmet, too. Every game, he trots out on the field with a light blue outline of the state of Oklahoma. He truly believes that as much of an impact as he and the team may have had, they were equaled influenced on that day one year ago.

“We always try and talk to our guys and teach our guys life lessons. It’s not all about fielding backhands and hitting curveballs and stealing bases,” Mazey said. “Twenty years from now, you won’t remember how many hits you got against Kansas in the first game of the tournament, but you’ll remember the impact you made on lives and the friends you’ve made and the relationships you’ve made and what you did when people needed you. This is really important to our guys to get out there, it’s something they’ll remember the rest of their lives.”

On that day, 23 people were killed, another 377 injured and about 1,500 homes were destroyed. And yet, as Mazey and the Mountaineers walked through the devastation, there was one thing that really stood out to them.

“I think the people,” Mazey said. “They’re sitting in lawn chairs next to their house that just looks like a bunch of toothpicks and their mentality and their resiliency and their desire to build. Hey, it’s only material possessions. I’ve still got my health, I’ve still got my family.”

It was a lesson learned for a group of college athletes whose original intention in making the trip was only to play a game.
“That goes a long way with kids and with me for people to show that no matter what happens, I’m going to stand up tall, hold my head up high and I’m going to beat this thing and come back and be stronger than ever,” Mazey said.

On Tuesday, the team will get a chance to see just how strongly the people of Moore have come back. 

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