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June 25, 2011

Storm put athletic events on hold

TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama softball team was supposed to be beginning warm-ups before hosting UAB when the storm hit. Dire weather reports earlier in the day convinced both schools to cancel the game, making it the first athletic event to be affected by the April 27 storm front that claimed 43 lives in Tuscaloosa and hundreds more across the region.

When the tornado approached, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy and his players left the softball facility and rode it out in Coleman Coliseum. Because of the widespread devastation and the emotional toll on the Tuscaloosa community, Murphy decided to cancel that weekend's home series against Kentucky.

"It was kind of a feeling of there's a lot more important things than softball right now," said Murphy, whose team would wind up winning the SEC regular-season championship and earning a berth in the Women's College World Series.

Former UA football coach Gene Stallings was scheduled to appear at his annual golf tournament to benefit The Arc. Mal Moore, Alabama's director of athletics, was to host a charity golf event the same weekend.

Both were canceled, along with a 7-on-7 football tournament and a Crimson Caravan appearance by Nick Saban in Atlanta.

The Emerald Coast Golf Tour event scheduled for June 3-5 at Ol' Colony Golf Complex was canceled by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority in the aftermath of the storm.

"Unfortunately the event was canceled due to the tornado," Tour Director Geno Celano said. "(PARA) felt it was better if we do the event next year, so, unfortunately, we will have to wait until next year."

The storms affected the lives of players and coaches throughout the state. The AHSAA reacted quickly and decided to postpone postseason activities in several sports. The second round of the baseball playoffs was pushed back to the following week.

Greg Kosloff, a Tuscaloosa police captain and head coach of the Holy Spirit baseball team, lived in the direct path of the tornado that tore through the Forest Lake neighborhood, and players helped clear the debris in the days after the storm.

Athletic facilities and other buildings at American Christian Academy received heavy damage. On the day after the storm, more than 100 volunteers showed up to help clear the debris. ACA couldn't play its second-round baseball series on campus, but the Patriots swept Sumiton Christian in a doubleheader at Hillcrest. ACA, which returned to its home field for a semifinal series, finished its season as the Class 2A champion.

Reach Andrew Carroll at [email protected] or at 205-722-0223.


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