SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) After Hurricane Michael,how can we "return to normalcy?"
Gulf Coast baseball coach and athletic director Mike Kandler quipped last month on Twitter that "a good start would be to stop using the word normalcy, a word not normally used."
So, there's that. There's also sports.
Practicing and playing has been a relief to many in our communities, but it wasn't just fall high school teams rushing to return to action.
Rutherford baseball head coach Cody Chizmar says his players wanted to play fall ball, they just didn't have a place to do it. Thankfully, the Shamplain Sports Complex will be ready for the Rams to play next spring.
"The backstop is the main thing we need to get fixed and just get the field where it's safe," he said. "I know the district is going to sweep our field for nails and glass and make sure everything is safe for the kids to play before they do anything."
The backstop isn't the only thing in a state of disrepair.
The roof of the visitor's dugout was ripped off. The fence, scoreboard, and clubhouse all suffered damage. Still, the Rams are counting on having a safe, sound home when the season begins in February.
In the midst of a difficult time for many in the community, Chizmar is also making sure baseball will be a refuge, not a burden for players and their families.
"We always have a player fee that all the kids pay at the beginning of the season, but with what's going on, I kinda feel like a bad person and it's not in my morale to make kids pay to play baseball when they might not have homes or clothes," Chizmar added. "If you're on the baseball team at Rutherford in 2019, you're not going to pay a player fee. It's going to be on us for this year."
The coach hopes that other teams will follow in kind.
"Around the county, I hope they see that as well. It's too much for kids right now and their parents."
There are certain constants you can count on in life, including sports. Even though Michael stripped away many comforts from the Panhandle, sports teams are sticking around...and sticking together.