Gifford basketball players get back on the court
GIFFORD — The Gifford Grade School Eagles got back into the gymnasium on Friday for their first basketball practices after the storm.
John Frerichs, one of the three eighth-grade players, said it felt good to take a break from the abnormal.
“It’s different from we’ve been used to,” Frerichs said. “We’ve been out every day since the tornado working, so it kind of felt good to get back into our same routine that we used to have and get to feel a little more normal.”
The gym was open to the fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade basketball teams, and just about everyone showed up, Frerichs said.
Gary Duden, one of the coaches who helped organize Friday’s practice, said it’s one of the things that shows Gifford is starting to make progress back toward normalcy. He said all the parents were very supportive of the idea when he sent out the emails and text messages.
“I think the main thing that we as coaches see is getting the kids back to some kind of normal, is what we call it,” Duden said. “Get them back to seeing their friends.”
The basketball season started earlier this month but has been on pause since the storm. The team has away games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday against St. John’s in Buckley and Catlin Elementary.
Friday’s practices were the first time back in the gym, but the players did not take it lightly, Frerichs said.
“Most of them had already been seeing each other. Some kids were still goofing around,” Frerichs said. “Everybody took it decently serious.”
School will resume Monday. Frerichs dodged a question about whether or not he was looking forward to going back to class.
“It’s good to have a break, but you don’t want it to be like this,” he said.
Duden said the practice and Monday’s classes are two of a number of signs that things are progressing in Gifford.
“People’s moods are getting more normal by accepting what’s going on but not getting down and out because this is a town that’s not going to fail,” Duden said. “We’re going to rebuild and we’re going to move on.”
Frerichs’ father, James Frerichs, said it is good for the kids to get back to something normal. Since the storm, he said his son and many of the kids had been helping out at a church.
They have also been working very hard to clean up, the father said.
“They’ve helped out in yards. It’s not like they’ve sat at home and done nothing,” James Frerichs said. “They’ve been busier than I have. They’ve been out past dark a couple of days.”
Duden said Friday’s practice was a refresher for the kids in advance of their Monday and Tuesday games. But even more than that, he said, it was reinforcement of the team concept — an idea that probably needs no explanation at the moment in Gifford.
“It’s just about team,” Duden said. “Team first.”