The drive from downtown Oklahoma City to Norman usually takes around 30 minutes.
But on Tuesday, navigating through traffic and an altered route, it took the West Virginia baseball team more than 90 minutes to get there.
No matter. Coach Randy Mazey and his players were determined to make an impact, fueled by a passion for helping the displaced victims of Monday's Moore tornado.
So the Mountaineer coaches, players and support staff, all 37 of them, packed into a crowded team bus outside their downtown hotel and prepared to make the winding trek toward the University of Oklahoma dorms, where many victims were being temporarily housed.
With them, the Mountaineers brought supplies. Lots of them.
A night before, after hearing of the horrors and seeing the devastation on television, a few WVU players texted Mazey, telling the coach they wanted to help.
He agreed, having seen firsthand the devastation of the 2011 Joplin, Mo. tornado, while at a baseball tournament in the Southwest Missouri town.
“I had never experienced anything like it,” Mazey said of the immediate aftermath in Joplin.
Like many, they were turned away from the disaster zone, a place reserved for first responders.
So the team, in town for the Big 12 Tournament, went to a local Walmart and gathered helpful supplies.
In all, Mazey estimated they spent more than $4,000, expected to come out of the WVU baseball fund, to purchase flashlights, batteries, clothes, diapers, towels, air mattresses and other disaster necessities.
And in another act of generosity, they bought an entire shopping cart full of supplies and food for a displaced woman they met at Walmart.
“She had mud on her and she was crying, so that just hit me right there,” WVU outfielder Brady Wilson said. “She told us she was at work, her husband was at work and her kids were at school and they were separated until 10:30 last night, so that's scary.”
Packed with players and supplies, the bus finally left OKC at around 2:15 on Tuesday afternoon.
On its long route to Norman, the bus passed through Newcastle, an impacted town. And near the interstate, a large steel bridge had been completely dislodged from its substructure, giving the team its first glimpse at the devastation.
“Oh, man,” one of the players mumbled, among a bus of sobering stares.
Soon after, at around 4 p.m., the team finally arrived in Norman, visiting a campus where the program, in its first season as a member of the Big 12, has yet to play a conference game.
On arrival, the team unloaded into an assembly line of plastic bags, ushering in a seemingly never-ending amount of supplies to the donation station.
“Is there any more?” a caretaker asked at one point. “Yes,” one of the WVU players responded, “…a lot more.”
Many of the workers showed their gratitude, striking up conversations with the players, asking about the team and thanking them as they left.
“It was overwhelming to see how much stuff that everybody's bringing for the families in need,” Mazey said. “Just the fact that we can pitch in and help out, it seems really insignificant, really just like a drop in the bucket, but I'm glad we did it.”
On the way back to OKC, Mazey suggested they take the conventional way, up through the bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-35, to give his players a chance to witness the damage.
As they passed through the ravaged areas in Moore, surveying the damage, a stunned tension fell over the bus.
“On one side of the parking lot it's fine and then the other side is completely torn up,” one coach said, while shaking his head, “It's dumb luck. It's just sad.”
“I'm at a loss for words really,” outfielder Brady Wilson said, beginning to fully grasp the magnitude of the situation. “Driving by there and seeing pretty much nothing. Houses that were there, cars destroyed, it was not a pleasant sight at all and it kind of hits you. But after what we've done, it really makes you feel good. I hope what we did really helped a lot of people.”