Jeff Brickman was happy to gain some sense of normal with his team last week.
After two weeks of fundraisers and cleaning and trying to help his players, co-workers and friends get their lives back together after the May 20 tornado, the Southmoore football coach was glad to spend some time worrying about how well his receivers ran routes, his linemen blocked and plenty of other things that have been so insignificant since the storm tore through Moore.
Brickman took his team to the Tulsa team camp, and he was impressed with what he saw. One of his players — receiver Jalen Adams — even picked up his first BCS Conference offer coming out of the camp. Adams was offered by Indiana.
“I really hadn't planned on us looking very good there,” Brickman said. “We usually have two full weeks of spring practice going in, and this time we just had a weekend. But we did really well against big-time competition.
“It was really nice to be able to get on the football field and call plays and have the kids run plays and kind of get away from the stuff we've been dealing with.”
In the days after the tornado came through, Southmoore's coaches decided they needed to do something. Not only for the nearly 20 football players on the team who had lost their houses, but for other athletes at the school, other teachers and even people who lived close to the school that needed help.
“We tell our kids, ‘Don't wait around for somebody to do something, just do it yourself,'” Brickman said. “So we went to work.”
The team started collecting monetary donations on its website and distributing money every Saturday.
Every Saturday, families that come into the Southmoore fieldhouse and are given checks.
In three weeks, the SaberCats have collected and distributed around $85,000 to around 90 families.
Other coaches and teams from around the city and state have sent money to the cause, including significant checks from Edmond North and Putnam City North.
Brickman's church, Oakcrest Church of Christ, helped with the cause.
Fundraising from other schools hasn't been limited to football teams, or for the football teams.
Norman North boys golf coach Dennis Etter and his players organized a fundraiser that would raise $3,458 to buy new clubs for a pair of Southmoore golfers who had lost their homes.
Edmond North softball also raised money for families affected, as did plenty of other programs.
Several also came ready to work.
Olathe (Kan.) Northwest brought supplies, money and 300 T-shirts with both schools' logos on them last week.
Fort Gibson did something similar, collecting items and raising money at the school's spring football game, then bringing the supplies to Brickman's team.
The Tigers even did something else that was just as valuable — spent time clearing debris from Southmoore's practice field that was littered with shattered glass and other debris.
“It's really encouraging,” Brickman said. “Football's such a competitive sport that sometimes there's bitter blood around. We're all at different schools, but when something like this happens, you really see the humanity and how much people are good at heart.”