Joplin contingent is craving 'normal'

  • Article by: CRAIG MALVEAUX , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 16, 2012 - 12:23 AM

A year after a tornado devastated their community, the Midwest Select Club sees playing in the Schwan's event as a big step in healing.

A tweed frock-wearing, swashbuckling Johnny Depp flashed before the eyes of Lisa Williams, her son, Eli, and the rest of their family 14 months ago. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" was playing at the local theater.

Outside, a few miles away, an EF5, multiple-vortex tornado bore down on Joplin, Mo.

"It didn't look like it would hit Joplin, so we really didn't worry about it," said Williams, who lives in Joplin.

That tornado did hit Joplin, and this week Williams, Eli and Eli's teammates from the Midwest Select Soccer Club are using the Schwan's USA Cup soccer tournament at the National Sports Center in Blaine as another step in their recovery from that storm. The club will light the cauldron in an Olympic-style ceremony to kick off the annual event Tuesday night.

The tornado threw neighborhoods into tumult throughout Joplin, especially in the southwest corner of the city of nearly 50,000. Houses and buildings crumbled. Roads were wrecked, schools gone. More than 100 people died.

"It looked like a war zone," Williams said.

A month later, Eli's soccer coaches were contacted about participating in the 2011 Schwan's USA Cup. They declined then but accepted an invitation to participate this year.

"There was no way we could make it out there," said Sean Lauderdale, coach and co-founder of the Midwest Select Soccer club.

Now, making it out there sends the message that recovery is underway.

"I really want them to represent that we as a people from this area were hurt and damaged pretty bad but we, together, are recovering and moving forward," he said.

Lauderdale lives in Pittsburg, Kan., about 30 miles northwest of Joplin. That May evening, he watched the television broadcast in fear. He heard the rising death toll and the names of specific areas ravaged by the storm.

"You're thinking to yourself, I have a player who lives there, I have a player who lives there," he said.

All of the players and their families survived. Some lost their homes. Others, such as the Williams family, see their losses elsewhere.

A year removed, Joplin doesn't resemble the quaint city from before. In some areas, there are no street signs, still. Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers line neighborhood streets where homes stood.

"You get lost," Lauderdale said. "And these are places that I've been through thousands of times. Homes and businesses that used to be there for years, decades no longer exist."

The field where Midwest Select Soccer held practice remains intact. It lies, unaffected, miles outside of Joplin, so the team travels there to scrimmage and learn fundamentals, like before.

There, the tornado is set aside. That pitch is where they can be teenagers again.

Williams prays that this becomes true for Eli, 14. The tornado left him without his peace of mind and with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He has a lot of mental health and behavioral issues that he didn't have before that day," she said. "You'll notice some of those effects off the field. For example, he talks to himself at times."

Participating in the Schwan's USA Cup means much to the players and Lauderdale.

"I'm just so proud," Lauderdale said. "For them to step on this kind of stage, it will be an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives."

To Williams, it means something else.

"If he is playing, he is our old son," Williams said. "For the few minutes, we get to hope that maybe someday everything will be normal again."

  • related content

  • Chart: Schwan's Cup soccer tournament info

    Sunday July 15, 2012

    What: It is the largest youth soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere, involving 958 teams from 22 states and 16 countries this year.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 69 3rd Qtr 3:46
Cleveland 71
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 29 2nd Half 17:19
Illinois State 26
Louisville 40 2nd Half 17:40
Pittsburgh 34
UMBC 8 1st Half 10:52
Albany 14
Niagara 4:00 PM
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Washington 7:30 PM
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
Northeastern 73 1st OT 1:38
Elon 75
(7) Maryland 79 2nd Half 0:50
Indiana 66
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 37 2nd Half
Washington St 27
Tulane 29 2nd Half 15:41
South Florida 42
(14) Kentucky 43 2nd Half
Missouri 40
(9) Oregon State 36 2nd Half 17:44
(13) Arizona State 25
Vermont 17 1st Half 7:49
UMass Lowell 23
Iowa State 16 1st Half 5:48
(8) Texas 20
Southern Ill 9 1st Half 12:03
Wichita State 16
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters