April 28, 2011

Schools, coaches impacted by storms

Powerful storms and massive tornadoes in a number and force that hasn't been seen in decades ripped through the South this week, killing at least 250 people in six states while leaving a wake of destruction from Texas to Virginia.

Homes, business and outdoor facilities were battered throughout the region, with Alabama getting hit the hardest.

On Thursday, the Alabama High School Athletic Association halted all spring sport playoff games until May 2.

"We think it is important at this time to allow all our students, teachers and families to concentrate their efforts on the more immediate needs caused by this catastrophe that has affected so many," AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said in a press release.

And that was just one way that numerous high schools and their athletic facilities were impacted - and, in some cases, demolished. Many coaches, players and administrators were impacted personally.

  • Smithville (Miss.) High - the entire school and its indoor athletic facilities, including the gymnasium - were completely destroyed. According to the Associated Press, as of Thursday afternoon, at least 13 deaths had been reported in the town.

  • Ringgold (Ga.) High suffered severe damage Wednesday night. School superintendent Denia Reese told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the high school won't be usable for the rest of the year for classes. But that won't affect commencement.

    "Our Ringgold High School Tigers will graduate from Ringgold High School," Reese told the paper.

    U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) posted photos of the school's damage on his website after touring the area Thursday.

  • The roof was torn off of Pell City (Ala.) High during the storms, as well as the school's field house. (See video footage of the school from CBS 42 in Birmingham.)

  • Hueytown (Ala.) High baseball coach Rick Patterson's house in Pleasant Grove was destroyed in the storm, according to CBS 42 sports producer B.J. Millican, who reported the news via Twitter. The Associated Press reported that the town of Pleasant Grove, which is about 50 miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, suffered significant damage.

  • In the same community, the Birmingham Times reported Friday that Bessemer (Ala.) Oak Grove basketball coach Tom Hannah also lost his house in Pleasant Grove.

  • There were also multiple unconfirmed Twitter reports that the newly constructed Pleasant Grove (Ala.) High was severely damaged if not completely destroyed.

    Local NBC affiliate Alabama's 13 reported via Twitter that there was damage "in and around" the town's middle school.

    One thing that is known is that all members of the Pleasant Grove football team are safe. Coach Jim Elgin told the Birmingham Times that he pieced together the whereabouts of all of his players via text message.

  • Ardmore (Ala.) High football coach Shannon Brown's daughter was among those killed in Tuscaloosa's massive tornado, according to the Twitter page of Dr. Casey Lewis, the principal of the Johnson Elementary, another school in the Limestone County School District.

  • Structural damage was reported to the field houses at both Athens (Ala.) East Limestone and Tanner (Ala.) High schools, according to the Athens News-Courier.


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