PANAMA CITY, FL (WJHG/WECP) Call the basketball teams of Bay High School nomads these days!
Both teams having to practice and play their early season games away from their home gym. The floor at Cobb gym buckled because of water damage. It's currently being replaced. That after it first appeared as if the floor there and the gym overall had weathered the storm fairly well.
"But over time, the water sitting under it, the floor started buckling." Bay boy's head coach Rusty Cook told me Monday. "Then they decided, we were still practicing in there, around the bad places. They decided to go ahead and tear it up. So that left us with nowhere to practice. So that was the only downfall of tearing the floor up, it left us with nowhere to practice."
So the Tornadoes working out at a gym at First Baptist downtown, and at other venues, like Monday, being able to get on the floor at the Harrison Field House on the Gulf Coast campus. That thanks to a lot of extra effort on coach Cook's part not long after he realized the Cobb Gym would not be playable for some time.
"I picked up the phone, started calling. Didn't get many answers so I started driving around the seeing gym after gym damaged. So it really left us with not many choices at all. Right now we can go limited days, we have to check with First Baptist (Church), they have a little small court, upstairs, downtown, many people don't even know it's there. But it's about as big as this half court here. So it's really hard to get up and down. It's a place where we can go, get in our sets, do a little shooting, but as far as getting up and down the court, we really can't do it."
And for now, Bay's playing it's "home games" at North Bay Haven's gym. All this part of the new normal in the wake of an epic storm that's affected so much more than these players basketball existence.
"As long as we've got a place to go, for them, as long as I can find a place to practice, a place to play, they're ok." says coach Cook. "Most of my kids are dealing with issues. Whether it be living, if they have a house, living with family. Some of them are just with friends, just so they can stay around the program and not have to move away. So they are very resilient, I'm really proud of them."
And the coach says his players are still trying to get into game shape, having to use the games to do that for the most part. Bay's season continues Tuesday night when the Tornadoes play at Arnold.