Hattiesburg Tornado Leaves William Carey Basketball Teams Homeless

As a part of the 600 win club, there’s not many emotions Steve Knight hasn’t experienced as the head men’s basketball coach at William Carey. Saturday morning evoked the rest of them all at once when he saw 35 years of memories lying amongst the bricks and destruction from the Hattiesburg tornado.
It’s moving day for Steve Knight and three and a half decades worth of memories have been reduced to debris, what’s left is tucked away in boxes all crammed in the back of his GMC. “Well the devestation is unbelievable. You see it on TV with tornadoes, but to have one hit your campus particularly for me personally this is 35 years of memories in this gym. It’s tough,” said Knight.
Clinton Gymnasium is a lot of things to Coach Knight. It’s where he won his 506th career game back in 2010 making him the all-time winningest basketball coach in the state of Mississippi. Then in 2014 his Crusaders went a perfect 12-0 at home en route to a 28-3 season and national coach of the year honors for Knight. This same time two years ago he won his 600th career game, something less than 100 men’s coaches have ever done. And then there is January 21st, 2017. “Oh, of course not. No, no. This will be etched in our memories forever.”
The same goes for first-year assistant women’s coach and former Lady Crusader Jessica Garriga who is not ready to say goodbye to the place she just came back to. “It’s just kind of hard to leave it. I have memories as a player and now as a coach. Emily is coming in here too, so obviously it’s a little bit of that same kind of feeling. It’s surreal in a lot of ways.”
In other ways, it’s just plain sad, but how fitting that both teams won their final games at home which makes reflecting on all the good times that much easier for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer. “Wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Two great wins, guys and girls, last Monday and so that’ll be a good memory knowing you’ve won your last games here. From here on out, they’ll just be memories for all of us, not just those former players,” said Knight.
The Crusaders returned to practice tonight for the first time since the tornado at Hattiesburg High School’s Buddy Watkins Gymnasium which was also completely destroyed by the February 10th tornado in 2013.

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