West Virginia will have a fan base of Oklahomans this week during the Big 12 tournament for something the team did off the field.
Exactly two years ago, on May 20th of 2013, the Mountaineers coaches and players were fortunate to evade harm brought on by the tornado that ripped through Moore while the team was in Oklahoma City for the Big 12 baseball tournament.
But, its impact was felt immediately. "The team was lifting weights in downtown Oklahoma City at the time,” said West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey. “The coaching staff was out at a restaurant."
Mountaineers catcher Ray Guerrini explained what the team did next. "We were in there working out, when all of a sudden the power goes out; the alarm goes out. We were just sitting there kind of wondering what was going on. We real quick got back to the hotel.”
The team soon came up with a plan to help. “After we saw the aftermath, and we knew everybody on our team was safe, some of the guys on our team actually texted me and said, ‘Coach let's do something. ‘What can we do?' So, that night, we took the whole team up to Walmart and just loaded up the shopping carts,” Mazey elaborated. “I told them, ‘everyone take a cart and grab everything you think a family would need that just lost everything.'”
They spent hours cleaning up debris, doing whatever they could, and the effort didn't go unnoticed. "You're just kind of lost for words when somebody comes up and hugs you and says thank you. What you're doing really isn't enough; it's just a small little portion of what they lost,” said Guerrini. “For them to come and say thank you, and cry, it's just a different experience. It made me want to help even more."
Coach Mazey is happy that his team could help. "That's what we're in this profession for, is to teach kids what life is all about,” he stated. “Baseball's a great way to do that, but there [are] so many more life lessons in this game than fielding backhanders and hitting curveballs. I feel like the guys that went through that experience are different people because of it, and I'm glad we were able to help."