The Bethune-Cookman football team has been living out of hotels and preparing for games outside the state of Florida for nearly two weeks amid Hurricane Ian.
What’s more, it is unclear when the Wildcats will be able to return back to Daytona Beach after the storm ripped through the campus and level several structures heavily damaged.
The Wildcats are currently working out at Vanderbilt University in Nashville ahead of its game on Saturday at Tennessee State.
“It’s been kind of rough on us,” said B-CU head coach Terry Sims of the challenge.
Before its most recent game at Alabama A&M, the team spent the week in Chattanooga, Tennessee ahead of Bethune-Cookman’s campuswide evacuation order. The traveling party then bussed a little more than an hour to Huntsville to play the Bulldogs in a game it lost 35-27.
Karen Parks, BCU’s executive director of communications, told Inside Higher Ed last Friday that the university has yet to do a full damage assessment, but the campus would remain closed until it does.
“We still feel the storm’s impact, she told the website. “Once we have determined the storm’s impact, we will work on how and when to bring our students back to campus safely.”
The Wildcats, for now, will remain on the road. But for Sims and the coaching staff, it has been about taking care of the players — ensuring they all have a safe place to stay, plenty to eat, and are able to still focus on school work despite all the uncertainty surrounding them personally.
“We’re obviously going to pray and we’re going to have our time to do that, he said. But we’re also giving the guys time to, whether it be FaceTime or making a phone call, to make sure that their family members are okay.
“We had some guys … their families were hit pretty hard by the storm. So we will allow time for it. There are a few things we have to make time for. We’re just trying to keep everyone in the mindset of control what you can control.”
Sims explained that football will act as a temporary respite away from the real-life trauma of the storm and its impact.
“For a couple of hours, you’re not going to think about it or worry about it,” the coach said. “It does (the game) offer this football team a chance to get away for at least a couple of hours a day and ease their mind. It’s not the end of the world here but we definitely have a lot of things we can be thankful for.”