The massive tornado that ripped through a handful of Oklahoma City suburbs grabbed the attention of the sports world on Monday, especially for the players and coaches with ties to the area.
Muskogee High slowpitch softball coach Keith Coleman said he had been in contact with coaches at Moore and Westmoore. The three schools are regular competitors in slowpitch both in the regular season and postseason.
“Both were near where it hit. Everyone down there is OK. They were all in school when it happened,” Coleman said. “I talked again to (Mickey) Wakefield at Moore a little later and the school was still in lockdown 45 minutes after it hit.”
The tornado hit Moore just after 3 p.m. An elementary school in the area was destroyed and a number of children died.
Coleman stayed in Moore the day before after participating in an O-Tour golf event and left about the time the tornadoes hit Edmond and Shawnee.
Kevin Durant, a three-time scoring champion for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, posted on his Twitter account that he was praying for everyone involved. He added: “Everybody stay safe!”
Coverage of the tornado damage was on the clubhouse TV as the Red Sox prepared for their game at the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s a tragedy when you see a natural disaster like that take place, so many innocent people that are certainly affected, if not directly by injury or possibly loss of life,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “Having been though something similar back in 1997 that had probably very similar damage, it’s a scary situation. Our thoughts are with all the people affected.”
Farrell played for Oklahoma State in college, and then served as the assistant coach and pitching and recruiting coordinator for the Cowboys for five seasons from 1997-2001.
“The location today is very close to where it was back in ’97,” Farrell said. “Just that area just south of Oklahoma City seems to be right in the path of unfortunately a lot of storm fronts and certainly the tornadoes again today.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura also played his college ball at Oklahoma State, where was a three-time All-America. The Santa Maria, Calif., native said he didn’t know anything about tornadoes until there were a couple that passed through the area while he was in school.
“It’s scary,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, who played at Oklahoma State and grew up in the Oklahoma City area, was relieved that no one in his wife’s family was injured.
“Devastating damage to Moore, Oklahoma due to Tornadoes,” Weeden wrote on his Twitter account. “Please keep these people in your prayers. Thankfully (at)MelanieWeeden family is safe.”
Kansas coach basketball coach Bill Self also went to Oklahoma State.
“We wish nothing but the very best for (those affected by the storm) and our thoughts are with them,” he said.