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East Webster stays strong in adversity

April 27, 2012

It's been one year since a tornado severely damaged the campus of East Webster High School in Cumberland.

The signs of destruction are still evident at the site where the school building was once used, but the Wolverines are making the most of what facilities they've got.

In the days immediately following the devastating storm, the East Webster baseball team couldn't play a home game and neither could the softball squad. Home postseason games and practices were held in Houston and other locations.

Well on Thursday, Cumberland was a buzz with Class 2A playoff activity as the Wolverines hosted Wesson in baseball and the Lady Wolverines hosted Strayhorn in softball.

Back in the fall after an entire summer of preparation, East Webster was able to play all home football games on its field. It was quite an emotional night for the season-opener against Vardaman.

Even though the gym was a total loss, the Wolverines found a place for hoops last season at the gym on the old Wood Junior College campus. Everything has a way of working out.

It was amazing to see how much the community came together in order to keep athletic events going in the face of adversity.

Webster County was one of the first areas hit by the April 27, 2011 tornado. Even though buildings took a hit, there was no loss of life. The storm came at the time of morning when there was no students, teachers or administration at the school.

The system advanced to the east later in the day where it caused more destruction and some deaths.

"Like most people around here, we're so blessed and thankful," East Webster baseball coach Wes Johnson said. "The things that were destroyed can be replaced, but you can't replace lives. The things that are gone, we're going to get them back. We still have our community and each other. That's really all that matters."

After the storm, people sprang into action to assist neighbors and friends.

Rivals helped rivals as individuals from Eupora, Mathiston and Maben worked to get everyone back on their feet.

The goodwill may have been magnified because of the situation, but Johnson said it's really that way all of the time.

"It was that way before the tornado, but it's like a family," Johnson said. "When something happens to one of them, they really come to the rescue of them."

Anyone who watches the Wolverines play any sport notice the will and determination they use to experience success.

It's that same characteristic that keeps the community strong one year after the tornado.

How can one not admire and pull for a school like East Webster?

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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