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Spartan Park survives a tornado…..really!

Photo used courtesy of CSD athletics
Spartan Park’s tennis courts sustained the most damage after a tornado tore through the area.

Early season athletic practices and back-to-school activities are notoriously unpredictable but what recently happened at CSD’S Spartan Park truly had people blown away.

On August seventh, as women’s tennis was finishing practice, clouds marched across the sky blotting out the summer sun and personal cell phones blew up with National Weather Service (NWS) alerts. A tornado was heading straight towards the complex.

“We didn’t even know it was supposed to be a tornado at first,” said senior tennis player, Ava Jordan (‘24). “There was lots of thunder and it was dark and then Coach Maggie ended practice and we all rushed home.”

It hit a few minutes later. According to WCNC, the tornado was classified as an EF-0 – the weakest category – and it tracked with wind speeds upwards of 85 miles-per-hour. 

The funnel first touched down on nearby McIlwaine Road before moving northwest. It skirted along the edge of the practice field before ripping up the trees near the tennis courts  and continuing onto Beatties Ford Road.

I was there as it was happening, yes. Very much wish I wasn’t,” said John Bellissimo, CSD’s first year athletic director. “Actually [I] tried to leave and head home to my family but I only got one hundred fifty feet down Beatties Ford Road before I realized I should just bunker down at the field house.” 

The storm was quick and powerful.

“When I opened the back door [after the storm had passed], I saw one of our soccer nets sitting on top of our aux field fence and teetering back and forth on it,” coach Bellissimo said.

On the auxiliary field, the tornado relocated soccer goal, knocked down benches and damaged wind fences. Photo used courtesy of CSD athletics.

 The damage was eye-opening. In addition to flying soccer goals knocking over fences, trees splintered like toothpicks, one falling on the lower tennis courts.

The damage to the courts has had lasting effects weeks after the tornado originally uprooted the oak. The tennis team usually plays on all eight courts but with a pair of the lower courts still out of commission, The Lady Spartans are only using six.

“The matches are taking a whole lot longer to get done,” said Lizzie Kees (‘25).

There is a lot to coordinate when running a school athletic complex and, going forward, coach Bellissimo now has an item higher on his list, tornadoes and storms preparation.

“You never know what this weather will become of, so we need to be more proactive going forward,” said Bellissimo.

With the soccer goals back in place, fences in various stages of repair and the tennis courts soon to open again, the August tornado was a crazy start to CSD’s 2023 fall season and the coming games promise to hold even more stories.

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About the Contributor
Ben Gallagher
Ben Gallagher, Editor-in-Chief

Ben Gallagher, a junior, has been at CSD since eighth grade. In his third year of journalism, he hopes to improve his interviewing skills, cover new topics and see stories through different angles. 

While at school, Ben loves to play volleyball in the gym and learn about our nation’s past in AP US History. He is also looking forward to starting English and Psychology now in eleventh grade. He plays football as a wide receiver and is a middle infielder and outfielder in baseball for the Spartans. One of his favorite memories was freshman year when Matthew Ferguson hit a walkoff three run homer against Trinity High School to send CSD to the state regional finals.

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” - Lewis Caroll 


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