|Members of the WVU baseball team returned to Moore, Okla., earlier today on the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes of May, 2013.
Exactly one year ago today, one of the deadliest tornadoes the state of Oklahoma had ever seen ripped through the town of Moore, claiming the lives of 24 people and injuring hundreds of others.
The impact and damage it had on many Moore residents was devastating.
The West Virginia baseball team was in Oklahoma City, about 10 miles north of Moore, for the 2013 Big 12 Baseball Championship at the time of the natural disaster.
The Mountaineers and head coach Randy Mazey wanted to do anything they could to lend a helping hand to those who had lost so much.
So the group hopped on the team bus and made the short drive down I-35 to the scene of the disaster. They quickly encountered Mark Ellerd, who was still in shock. Mark’s home had just been destroyed.
The team spent hours assisting with the clean-up. It helped move debris, gather sentimental items and, most importantly, give hope.
“During the time when it happened, it was confusion. We didn’t know what we were going to do. Then you guys showed up,” said Mark Ellerd.
Mark and his wife, Katrina, have moved on from that awful day last May. They have rebuilt a home and started their new life.
|Mark and Katrina Ellerd address the WVU baseball team with head coach Randy Mazey
The Mountaineers are now back in Oklahoma City for the 2014 version of the Big 12 Baseball Championship. After practice earlier this morning, they decided to get back on the bus and travel down the familiar highway to Moore.
They paid a visit to the Ellerd’s, who graciously welcomed their familiar friends from West Virginia and informed them on the recent updates in their lives.
Coach Mazey had them re-tell the story of the day no one in Moore will ever forget, so the new Mountaineers would understand what took place a year ago.
“You guys came along at a really tough time for us and encouraged us,” Mark explained. “We are starting on this new journey, and we will always remember you.”
Mazey then had a message for his team, who is currently experiencing a seven-game losing streak entering tomorrow morning’s matchup with Kansas.
“In the grand scheme of things, losing seven games in a row doesn’t mean anything,” Mazey explained. “People go through a lot in life. A lot of that stuff never happens on the baseball field. In life, it’s about how you pick yourself up when you’re down.”
Mazey told his team that baseball is a minor facet of life compared to experiences like the Ellerd’s have endured. But he’s hoping his team, who once gave hope and encouragement to a family in need, can use the resiliency and courage of the Ellerds as their own form of motivation.
Mazey thanked the Ellerd’s for their friendship and support of the program. The Mountaineers took one last lap around the block, reminiscing on that day one year ago, and the vast improvements and strides taken by the small community.
West Virginia is looking to make a similar recovery with its season, when it faces the Jayhawks tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., EDT, in the first round of the 2014 Big 12 Baseball Championship.
And don’t worry, they’ll have the support and encouragement from their friends in Moore.
“I’m a Mountaineer fan for life,” Mark told the team in his West Virginia baseball shirt. “We can’t make it to tomorrow morning’s game, but we will be there Thursday.”