MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- What Randy Mazey's players didn't know probably helped them navigate the chaos that gripped Oklahoma Monday.
"A lot of the guys who don't have experience with tornadoes, I don't think they were scared or threatened at all," the West Virginia baseball coach said Tuesday, a day after a powerful tornado barreled through Moore, Okla.
"Unless you've been through one, you can't understand the sheer power of one of them."
The Mountaineers are staying in Oklahoma City in advance of this week's Big 12 Tournament. Their hotel is about four or five miles away from the path of devastation left by the mile-wide twister.
The team went from a practice at the University of Central Oklahoma and bused to the YMCA in Oklahoma City for weight training Monday. No one was too rattled when the dark clouds gathered, or when a woman told them to put down their weights and hasten their exit.
"We were in the city, only a couple blocks away from the hotel, so we got on the bus and it was pretty heavy hail and rain," senior right fielder Brady Wilson said. "I think a lot of guys were pumped up about maybe seeing a tornado. I don't think anybody knew."
The team arrived back at its hotel. Some went off to eat lunch. Others headed to their rooms. Wilson turned on his television, found the news, snapped out of a spell of disbelief and grabbed his cellphone to send a text message to Mazey.
"We've got to do something. This is going to do a lot of damage. People are going to need help."
Mazey's mind was already rounding the bases. It was decided the Mountaineers would wait the hour or so before the tornado cleared the area. Mazey called the Oklahoma City Police Department, which transferred him to the Moore Police Department, which transferred him to a command center dealing with the storm aftermath.
At first, Mazey started giving orders to the players to board a bus to go and help. But plans changed when he realized they might actually interfere with the early stages of the relief effort.
"We didn't want to clog things up and create traffic for people who needed to see if their loved ones were OK or who just couldn't get in there," Mazey said.
So, the Mountaineers would wait, not because they wanted to, but because they had to.
Wilson said it was "extremely frustrating" for a team of young, strong men to stand by helplessly and witness the tragedy from a distance.
"We wanted to get out there and help as many people as possible," Wilson said. "All we could do was watch the news. You couldn't even imagine the devastation."
They soon came to realize it would be hours, maybe days, before they were allowed to physically help.