458: We Keep Fighting – Texas A&M Athletics | #students | #parents

We were fighting. Across the winter and spring, student-athletes, coaches and administrators pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and dominated the collegiate athletics landscape. With individual accomplishments pouring in from every direction and multiple programs setting new records, success in spite of the pandemic was beginning to feel like a constitutional right. 

Then the storms rolled in.

There are 254 counties in Texas. Now imagine all 254 of those counties, in a state designed for temperatures above 90 degrees, in a winter storm warning. Ice and snow overtook the entire Lone Star State in a freak blizzard that cost over $130 billion in direct and indirect economic losses. Practically everything was shut down, power was lost state-wide and dozens of Texans lost their lives. In a year already consumed by the nightmare of a global pandemic, individuals around Texas were forced to come face-to-face with yet another obstacle, how to grapple with a once-in-a-generation blizzard.

Texas A&M saw multiple events cancelled. Teams were unable to practice. Coaches and student-athletes were, in some cases, stranded out of the state. It was yet another challenge in a year where nobody could catch a break.

“You just have to expect the unexpected when you’re an athletics administrator,” Bjork mentioned. “The great thing, not that you ever want to deal with something like that, is that we actually had a plan in place for severe weather situations. I guess you could say that a silver lining to that whole situation is that we were already well-versed in how to work in a hybrid situation. It’s not like we had all 70,000 students on campus, or all of our staff for that matter. We were in a virtual world already, so we were prepared to adapt from that standpoint. The biggest part was that there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t just sweep the snow or melt the ice away. It lingered for several days. 

“Just in athletics alone, we had over $2 million in damage in all of our facilities. It wasn’t just Kyle Field. Each and every one of our facilities had some sort of issue that we had to remedy. That was an unexpected financial burden, but the good thing was that it only lasted a couple days, and we were able to keep people safe. We were able to help out in our community by establishing Reed Arena as a warming shelter. Whether we could help 500 or 5,000 people, we were going to help out in whatever ways we could. It was like, oh yeah, by the way, in the middle of dealing with matters of social injustice and a global pandemic, we have a once-in-a-lifetime winter storm.”

Although Aggie athletics saw significant damage to all of its facilities, the Maroon & White still managed to serve as a community resource during a time of need in the Brazos Valley. Repairs to all of the athletic and academic facilities were made quickly and efficiently, with dedicated A&M employees working around the clock to get the university campus back into working order. Everyone was able to safely return home, restart practices and resume their regular schedules. Following the Valentine’s week snowstorm, individuals across the Aggie network and around the country gained a new appreciation for the resiliency needed to fight through this trying period in our history. 

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