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High schools: Football brings back some normalcy for Southmoore players

Playing ball is part of moving on after the May 20 tornado.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM, Staff Writer, Published: September 4, 2013

MOORE —  Jeff Brickman likes to make sure people are happy.

So when he saw so much unhappiness, so much disaster and so many tears surrounding his team on May 20, he wanted to meet with his coaches to talk about what they could do to make things better.

They came up with the idea of asking for donations. They brought the idea to their booster club and within two or three hours a website was set up collecting the donations.

Southmoore ended up raising $87,000.

But even then, Brickman learned some people can still be unhappy about the way donations are doled out.

“Sometimes you get put in a bind,” he said.

He originally didn't intend to become a people pleaser or a coach. He wanted to be a broadcast journalist. He almost completed his degree at Oklahoma. Then an internship at a local Oklahoma City station taught him that he would work unusual hours, and worse yet, he couldn't be a fan. That meant no cheering. That's not Jeff Brickman.

So the kid who originally played safety at Moore returned to coach at a local middle school under former Moore coach Tom Noles. From there, he worked his way to a position in Texas. He thought he'd stay and coach in Texas forever. Then circumstances changed, he returned to Moore and met his wife.

“It's home,” Brickman said. “It's what you get used to. Anywhere you move you'll have something.”

Brickman said he believes Moore residents need to be smart and safe. His family has a storm shelter. He knows Southmoore, with its cinder block walls, is safe too.

But safe doesn't always stop an EF-5 tornado. That's what happened May 20, when 22 of Brickman's players lost their homes. That's the day he realized that football doesn't matter as much as he thought. That if a kid doesn't set a block properly, there's no need to yell at him.

“I teach psychology,” he said. “I think the way we're built is you tend to forget or suppress when bad things happen. I think that a lot of us have kind of suppressed that. It's still there, but when it first happened the first week or so, you really realized that things aren't that big of a deal.”

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