ATHENS, Ga. –- Gerrod Chadwell grew up in Oklahoma but, miraculously, has yet to see a tornado. The Oklahoma assistant coach was named head coach of the inaugural University of Houston women’s golf team the same day a tornado ripped through his home state, two miles from his current home.
The emotional toll hit even closer when Chadwell talked to his sister, who two years ago taught third grade at Plaza Towers, an elementary school demolished by the storm’s path.
The heart-breaking news lends a different perspective to the week.
“It’s hard to have any emotion,” said Chadwell, “hard to get fired up.”
The Oklahoma coaches told their players there was no need for bad attitudes or hanging heads at the NCAA Championship. There are kids from Moore, Okla., who will never get this chance. Head coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell and Chadwell were on the range in Athens tracking the tornado’s path on Monday. When they returned from dinner, players watched the news coverage and saw restaurants and movie theaters they frequent back home completely leveled. Norman, where Oklahoma University is located, is 10 miles from Moore.
“We have friends who have lost a lot of things and we have to play for them at this time,” said Drouin-Luttrell, who planned to buy ribbons on Tuesday night for her team to wear. Oklahoma opened the NCAA Championship with a 3-over 291, good for eighth place.