MOORE — Nothing can take away the feeling of home. Not even a tornado.
As the wind whipped across the turf and large dark clouds hung overhead on Tuesday, the sounds of whistles and airhorns were joined by the buzz of construction tools at the Southmoore football team's practice.
It was the SaberCats' first official practice since May 20, when an EF-5 tornado broke the foundation of so many houses and turned the football players into a cleanup crew that helped their hurting community.
Southmoore is already starting to recover, grow and learn from that.
Among the more than 80 players who practiced on Tuesday evening until nearly 9:30 p.m. were 22 who lost their homes to the tornado. In honor of them and the city of Moore, the team practiced with navy blue helmets featuring a small decal: An outline of the state of Oklahoma and the letters “OK.”
Two SaberCats who are still affected by that devastation are freshman safety Gervarrius Owens and senior tight end Brandon Garrison.
Every day, Owens drives in from Norman while Garrison drives from Mustang — their new residences.
Their houses once stood in Moore. Neither of them believed they lost almost everything until they saw those houses wiped from their foundations.
Since May 20, their team and community stepped in.
“They've given us so much,” Owens said. “It's just a real blessing. It was a real shocker to have everything and then go to absolutely nothing.”
Said Garrison: “They did everything. They gave us food, they gave us money. They gave us clothes. They even offered us a place to stay or if we wanted to talk. They became more family through this situation than I realized they were before.”
Moore is just starting to rebuild, and so is the Southmoore football team. Out of the three Moore public high schools, Southmoore's students and staff were left with the worst from the tornado's devastation.