Mood ‘sad’ as visiting players learn of tornado

Published 12:50 pm Saturday, March 3, 2012

As citizens of Hazel Green, Alabama, began cleaning up the damage from an apparent tornado that ripped through town Friday morning, much of the student body and many athletes of Hazel Green High School were left to wonder if their friends and family members were safe from the storm.

The school’s baseball team has been in Troy since Thursday competing in the Terry Sikes Memorial Tournament while the basketball team and nearly 800 students arrived in Birmingham as the team played in the Final 48 tournament.

“It has been quite an interesting day,” head baseball coach J.T. Orr said. “Most of the players and parents were on the phone making sure everyone was alright.”

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The parents of one sophomore baseball player received news that their home, located in one the most effected areas in the Jacob’s Landing subdivision, had been damaged in the storm.

“They (parents) headed back this morning,” Orr said. “So far, they were the only family on the team with damage.”

Hazel Green is a small community in Madison County located just 15 miles north of Huntsville.

One of the first to call and check on the team was Charles Henderson baseball coach Derek Irons.

“As soon as I heard the news I picked up the phone and checked on them,” Irons said. “We wanted to make sure we were as hospitable as possible and make them feels as comfortable as we could.”

Orr said the hospitality was greatly appreciated.

“We have received several phone calls from Charles Henderson coaches,” he said. “They have done everything they could to help.”

According to Orr, Faulkner University, where several Hazel Green graduates now attend college, has committed to make the tip north and help with the clean up effort.

While the community appears to have come away without reports of major injury or death, Orr said the mood of the team was somber.

“They seemed distracted this morning,” he said. “They were making phone calls all morning. It definitely made an impact.”

The coach also described the temperament of the town.

“They are sad at home,” Orr said. “I talked to one booster who was in tears. We are fortunate everyone came out alright.”

Orr said he had been told nearly 50 homes had been destroyed in the town.

The baseball team planned to stay in Troy Friday night and complete its slate of games before heading back home.

The basketball team defeated Murphy, 61-58, Friday afternoon and will play Carver-Montgomery at 8:45p.m. today for the Class 6A Alabama High School Athletic Association state championship.

The baseball team was able to watch the game from their hotel. They are scheduled to play at 10a.m. against Northview today.