Our hearts go out to tornado victims

As you can imagine, life in Oklahoma has been flipped upside down this week. The afternoon after my last blog was posted, possibly the biggest and most destructive tornado to hit our state came through Moore, Okla., just 10 miles up the road from us. Many of us go to Moore regularly to shop, eat, go to the movies, etc. Many staff members from our athletic department as well as OU softball alumni live in Moore as well.

Courtesy of Michelle Gascoigne

Sooners softball players help out with the relief effort after the tornado.

As the sirens began to go off in Norman, teammates and I took to the closest shelter wherever we were. A group of us including myself went to the athletic dorms, which have a basement. Our plan was to stay above ground and pay attention to the news to see if we really needed to take cover. We soon learned the tornado’s path curved around Norman and was heading toward Moore. Just as we began to grasp the severity of the situation, our TV and Internet went out, leaving us with radio to find out what was going on. During the entire afternoon and evening our whole team was in constant contact via group text checking up on each other and our families. It was definitely scary not being able to get a hold of loved ones, but as for our Sooner softball family, thankfully everyone was safe.

As the weather began to calm in Norman and we were able to watch the news again, the images and stories we began to see brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t believe that the town that I had eaten lunch in earlier that day would never be the same and was essentially flattened. I received numerous calls and messages asking if I was OK. All I could do was be thankful that I was. My heart, however, was and still is broken for so many families who have lost everything, including loved ones.

In the past couple days we have come together and have decided as a team to do everything we can to support the community that has always supported us. We want to use softball as a way to bring joy to many of our fans who are going through such a tough time. We will be wearing a special logo with the word “HOME” on our helmets this weekend to represent the city of Moore. I know, as one of the players on our team not from Oklahoma, we do consider it home. The people of Oklahoma have made me feel welcome and at home from the day I stepped on campus, and they definitely have my heart.

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we were able to make it out to help with some tornado relief. A local church that many of us attend is working as a huge relief center. The different rooms at the church are used for toiletries, clothes, food, etc. The challenge is to sort it all as fast as it's coming in, helping people find sizes of clothes, etc. It is amazing to see how many people are willing to help and give toward this cause, and from all over. Texas A&M drove up on Tuesday and brought money and a truck full of goods to drop off at the church.

At our super regional games Thursday and Friday the United Way will be collecting donations in form of cash, check, and gift card to directly benefit those affected. As much as items are needed, right now most places are saying money is what they need first and foremost.

As for us, we are thankful to have the opportunity to play in our beautiful stadium that is still standing. We will be playing with decals on our helmets, but mostly with Moore in our hearts and can’t wait to get after it. Please pray for Oklahoma in the coming weeks and for the resilience of its people. Thank you, Boomer Sooner.