FAU Owls land in Madison after Irma evacuation

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By Robert Alan Richardson

Sports editor

On the coattails of catastrophic devastation in Texas brought on by Hurricane Harvey came Irma.  The second hurricane in less than two weeks brought Florida to its knees and millions of evacuees from the state high-tailed it to Georgia to seek higher ground. 

Such was the case for many of the states universities and colleges, including Florida Atlantic University.

There’s a special connection between this university and the Morgan County basketball program.  Former legendary players, Devorious (Dee/Pooh) Brown and Jailyn Ingram, and Coach Charlemagne Gibbons evacuated with their team from the East Coast of Florida to Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee.  These three led Morgan to their first ever State Basketball Championship.  Gibbons left after that season for south Florida to become an assistant on the staff while Ingram and Brown followed him to sunny south Florida two years later. 

While away from FAU and in looking for a place to work on their strength and conditioning as well as a court for the players to enjoy some relaxing pickup play, there was no doubt who they would call upon.  Morgan County High School opened up their facilities (weight room, training room, and gym) to the Owls this past weekend with open arms.  Morgan’s head trainer, Coach Dennis Sitzman, even stepped in to help with some pre-workout taping.  He laughed when he said, “I’ve never seen feet that big, much less taped them.”

Who wouldn’t want to see and chat with these Bulldog greats?  They’re family, after all, and it was great to watch these guys get in some work and have some fun.

NCAA rules for offseason workouts are stringent in some regards so the coaches relegated themselves off the court and out of sight while the players ran the floor.  Visiting with the coaching staff of Head Coach Michael Curry and assistants Gibbons, Jorge Sanz, and Deon Curry (son of Michael) gave us some insight as to how things were going.  Curry said, “We knew it was coming to this earlier in the week and knew that our evacuation plan would have to take us out of the state of Florida.  We have two other sites in Florida to go to, but they were out of the question with the entire state being affected.  I have a place at Reynolds so it seemed like the best place to go, especially with Coach Gibbons’ connections here at Morgan County.  It’s a great facility and we greatly appreciate them allowing us to use it.”  Gibbons chimed in as well with these words, “We just needed a place to get away.  It’s great that we could come home with the guys.  We’ll be holding study hall, letting the players work some, and get to know each other better.  Official practices will start pretty soon so we wanted to make sure they stayed in some semblance of shape with school being cancelled.”

Either way, it’s always nice when you get to see the student-athletes and coaches that have helped to make Morgan athletics some of the best in the state.

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