Life Lessons

Tuesday, May 20, is the one-year anniversary of the tornado that devastated the town of Moore, Okla.. The West Virginia baseball team will take a break from preparations for the Big 12 Baseball Championship to join in a memorial service in the rebuilding city.

While West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey might be expected to focus more on breaking the Mountaineers out of the season-ending slump they've endured, he views Tuesday's ceremony as the chance to teach from a syllabus that goes beyond the diamond.

"I always want to teach our guys life lessons," Mazey said, reiterating a refrain that he made to just about every major news outlet in the country a year ago. It was at that time when Mazey took his team, which had been watching the tornado coverage in their hotel just a few miles away, into the heavy damage zone to assist in relief efforts.

"It's not all about fielding backhands or hitting curve balls," Mazey said on Sunday as the Mountaineers headed for Oklahoma City, site of the Big 12 Baseball Championship and just a few miles from Moore. "You'll remember what you did when people needed help a lot longer than what you did against Kansas. This is important and our guys will remember it the rest of their lives."

Plans are for the team to attend a memorial service in Moore during the morning, then try to connect with some of the families they assisted a year ago.

"We will go see the progress they have made in a year. It will be good to see it and I'm looking forward to it," Mazey said. "We are trying to work out a schedule and to meet the homeowners that we worked with and spent time with."

While Mazey and his team certainly remember their games in Oklahoma City a year ago, that's not what sticks out. Instead, it's the personal fortitude of the families of the ravaged town that stays with WVU's coach.

"The people, our kids, their willingness to help," Mazey said of what he remembers most of the events of a year ago. "The resilience of the people of Moore. Talking to them as they are sitting in lawn chairs next to their houses that look like toothpicks. They'd say, 'It's only material possessions, I still have my health and my family.' It shows that no matter what happens I am going to stand up tall and hold my head up high."

No matter what happens on the field this week, it's clear that Mazey has already done an outstanding job coaching this team -- and some of the most important things he's taught haven't involved a bat or a ball.

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