Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

By Special to UM News

Weathering the Storm

By Special to UM News
The Miami Hurricanes evacuated Coral Gables ahead of Hurricane Irma and now they move forward as a family after the catastrophic storm impacted millions.

The Miami Hurricanes face Toledo this Saturday, Sept. 23 at Hard Rock Stadium, just like the schedule has always said they would.
 
The path they took to the game, however, has been anything but routine.
 
Saturday's game against the Rockets is Miami's second game of the season – not its fourth. The Hurricanes aren't preparing for the game at the familiar confines of Greentree, but 240 miles away at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
 
That path was dictated by Hurricane Irma, which forced the entire University of Miami athletic department to adjust its plans over the past two weeks -- but never its focus.
 
Hurricane Irma developed in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 30, just a few days before the Hurricanes football team opened its season with a 41-13 victory over Bethune-Cookman to kick off the year.
 
Two days later, Hurricane Irma seized all the headlines, becoming a Category 5 storm that caught the attention of everyone in South Florida and the Caribbean.
 
Meteorologists and hurricane experts forecasted a path that had Hurricane Irma, a powerful and catastrophic storm that measured over 350 miles wide and had sustained winds as high as 185 miles-per-hour, headed on a collision course with Miami.
 
South Florida residents began their hurricane preparations and the administration at the Miami athletic department did the same. Director of Athletics Blake James and Deputy Director of Athletics/COO Jennifer Strawley began looking at all options for the Hurricanes just days before Miami's football, women's soccer, women's volleyball and men's and women's cross country teams were set to compete.
 
"From the very beginning, our focus was safety and the physical and mental well-being of our student-athletes and our staff," Strawley said. "We decided on Wednesday that it would be in the best interests of our student-athletes and our staff to cancel the games and dismiss our student-athletes. It was a decision based on our core values and the information we had at the time, which was that our plane may not be able to get out of Miami and, more importantly, not return in a timely fashion after game. Governor Scott had declared a State of Emergency for the state and President Frenk had done the same for campus. 
 
"We had student-athletes whose parents wanted them to leave Miami. We had staff who needed to prepare for a hurricane and make decisions for their families.  Given all the factors, we made the decision that we thought was best for our student-athletes and staff."
 
Miami's football team did not travel to play at Arkansas State on Sept. 9. Volleyball's trip to play at a tournament at Temple University in Philadelphia was called off, while two home soccer matches and a home cross country meet were also canceled.
 
James and Strawley quickly moved on to the next major task at hand-- what to do with hundreds of student-athletes as one of the most powerful storms in history was headed directly towards South Florida.
 
"After the decision was made regarding our contests and campus was going to evacuate.  We knew we needed a plan for any student-athlete that did not have a place to go."  Strawley said. "We looked at many options, but with all evacuating South Florida, we decided to find a hotel in Orlando that was willing to work with us and keep us safe. At that point we offered every student-athlete the opportunity to go to Orlando by bus late Thursday evening. "
 
The Hurricanes boarded buses outside the Hecht Athletic Center in Coral Gables and hit the road at 10 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 7.

Continue reading this story on HurricaneSports.com  |  Written By: David Villavicencio