Gophers tight end plans to return to Texas to help rebuild hometown

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 19, 2013 - 11:48 AM

Gophers tight end Lincoln Plsek is from West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday night.

hide

Gophers tight end Lincoln Plsek talked with coach Jerry Kill at Thursday's practice.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Gophers tight end Lincoln Plsek said his hometown of West, Texas, is the kind of place where “everyone knows everybody.”

So when a friend texted him Wednesday night, asking if his parents and younger brothers were OK, Plsek thought the friend just wanted to get caught up.

Plsek soon realized the town of 2,800 people had experienced tragedy, when a fertilizer plant exploded into a mushroom cloud, leveling nearby homes.

Knowing his family lives about two miles from the plant, Plsek frantically texted his mother, grandparents and friends, making sure everyone was OK. The texts didn’t immediately get through to his mother, but within an hour, she assured him his immediate family was safe.

Plsek later learned that a distant relative was killed in the blast.

“When something like that happens, you don’t expect it to be in your hometown, especially a town of [2,800] people, and it was just a shocking feeling,” Plsek said. “My heart goes out to the families and everyone who lost lives and was injured.”

As of Thursday night, the death toll was unknown, as rescuers searched for survivors in the smoldering ruins. Dozens were feared to have died from the blast.

Plsek’s mother, Jennifer, had a summer job at the fertilization plant when she was in high school. Her mom’s side of the family has multiple farmers who do business with the plant. But the Plseks didn’t suspect an explosion when they first heard and felt the blast.

“We were at home, kind of relaxing,” Jennifer Plsek said. “We’d heard reports that there were supposed to be storms. All of a sudden, we heard a real loud boom. We heard our house shake and we saw this large cloud of smoke, like you see on TV, those nuclear bomb-shaped clouds.”

The family evacuated their home for the night. Meanwhile, Lincoln Plsek spent a sleepless night following the television coverage. The footage of the explosion itself was especially hard for him to stomach.

“I watched one time and couldn’t watch it again,” he said. “It was too disturbing.”

During the hour when he couldn’t reach his family, Plsek thought specifically about his two youngest brothers.

“They have friends in that area, and I was just praying that they weren’t over there playing,” Plsek said, with his voice cracking.

By Thursday afternoon, it was time to focus on football. Tight ends are an important part of the Gophers offense, and Plsek played in eight games last season as a true freshman.

“I told myself I was going to dedicate this practice to everyone who got hurt, and everyone who died,” he said.

Plsek also spoke to the Gophers staff about returning home to help with reconstruction efforts.

“Obviously, I want to go down there and help so bad,” he said. “But it might be the best decision to stay up here, wait it out, and when I get home in a month after finals, I can volunteer to help rebuild.”

Coach Jerry Kill spoke with Plsek before practice.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close