On Thursday, the monotonous became exciting for Rockford baseball coach Scott Johnson.

He took an evening stroll to the baseball field and turned on the scoreboard. He made sure the sinks worked correctly in the bathrooms. Those simple, everyday preseason tasks felt special, even a little surreal, almost one year after an intense storm rattled Rockford.

“It’s a little strange," Johnson said. "We had to figure out how to do diamond prep over again."

A tornado swept through parts of North Iowa on June 9, damaging structures, scattering debris and putting a scare into many Rockford residents. Several areas around town were affected, including the Warriors' baseball and softball fields. 

Light poles crashed into the scorekeeper's and public address announcer's shed, and one of the bleachers was embedded in a fence. The teams were only two weeks into their season when the storm happened. 

Brad Williams doesn't know exactly how long he has been the PA announcer at Rockford baseball games, but it's a role he's served for most of the past decade. 

Friday was special for Williams, as well as Rockford's baseball and softball teams. Each picked up a victory against West Hancock, and Williams sat in a newly built press box, announcing the game while keeping score under the light of a 40-year-old piano lamp - he didn't want to turn on the new, fluorescent beams inside because he was unsure whether excess light would pour onto the field.

"This is a big change right now," Williams said. "Before, we were announcing from the little metal seats down there right by the dugout. It’s an incredible difference here."

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Williams, who lives 3 miles south of town, drove into town the day after the storm to see the damage. Williams' home saw "hardly any" adverse conditions, but he was astonished at the level of wreckage he saw elsewhere.

“It was kind of a shock, to be honest with you," Williams said. "Came up here that night after the storm, didn’t even bring my camera or anything, because I just wanted to see how the town was. ... I wasn’t expecting anything like this. I came up through town, and I was totally shocked at all the devastation."

Johnson cited the sacrifices parents had to make to accommodate the strenuous travel schedule. Take the baseball team, for example. The Warriors played only four games in Rockford before the storm, forcing them to play their final 14 games on the road. 

No home contests meant more travel and more late-night loads of laundry to prepare for the next day's practice or game. 

The debacle nearly a full year behind them, each of the Warriors' teams are showing signs of growth early in the 2019 season. 

The softball team is off to a perfect start, outscoring opponents 42-10 in three wins. Friday marked the baseball team's second consecutive shutout victory, bringing its record to 2-1.

"Once we got out here, things kinda set in," Johnson said. "Up until that point, it was just a lot of prep and nervous anticipation. ... "It’s really great to get back."

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Reach Sports Reporter Luke A. Garza at 641-421-0540 or follow him on Twitter @LukeAGarza


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