Alabama player injured in storms, events canceled

Updated: April 28, 2011, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama longsnapper Carson Tinker was injured in the storms that bombarded Tuscaloosa and other parts of the state, forcing Auburn's national championship football team to reschedule a trip to the White House. The weather also led to cancellations of high school and college sporting events.

Crimson Tide spokesman Jeff Purinton said Thursday that Tinker was in stable condition at DCH Regional Medical Center. He didn't specify the nature of the injuries sustained by the junior from Murfreesboro, Tenn., but said coach Nick Saban visited him before flying to New York for the NFL draft.

It was the only injury reported as of Thursday afternoon involving a University of Alabama athlete. The statewide death total -- which includes 36 people in Tuscaloosa, two of whom were UA students -- continues to rise.

Auburn's White House trip was postponed as President Barack Obama is set to visit the state on Friday to view storm damage and meet with Gov. Robert Bentley and affected families.

There was no new date immediately set for the White House visit.

All high school postseason events scheduled over the weekend were also postponed.

In Tuscaloosa, softball games, a charity golf tournament and a rowing event were canceled. Alabama canceled final exams and moved back graduation ceremonies.

Alabama's athletes and coaches appeared to escape mostly unscathed physically, but were still dealing with the rubble and difficult emotions the storms left behind.

"I just got back from one of the hardest hit areas trying to help a family that I know recover what they could of their belongings," men's golf coach Jay Seawell said. "I really could not believe what I saw. It was just utter devastation. I have never seen anything like it -- it was like a war zone. I hate to see our town go through something like this."

Basketball coach Anthony Grant said "it is overwhelming to see and try to comprehend the devastation this community has suffered."

Coleman Coliseum and Bryant-Denny Stadium apparently came through OK, but streets near campus were filled with demolished buildings.

"Everyone is still shocked at the destruction and loss of life," basketball player JaMychal Green said. "Those of us who were fortunate to be spared realize how blessed we are and pray for those who have lost loved ones and their homes. At this point all we can do is try to help someone and keep them in our thoughts and prayers."

Sometimes helping out just meant grilling burgers. That's what former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings was doing for emergency workers Thursday. He was in town for athletic director Mal Moore's charity golf tournament, which was canceled.

"It just didn't feel right to play golf," Stallings said.

Talladega Superspeedway pledged $100,000 to the relief effort.

A Facebook group formed by Auburn fans, Toomer's for Tuscaloosa, had drawn nearly 50,000 supporters by Thursday evening. Organizer Warren Tidwell, an Auburn resident, said he named the group in reference to "Tide for Toomer's," which Alabama supporters started to raise funds after the century-old oak trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner were poisoned -- allegedly by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke Jr.

"While we are passionate about football, it's meaningless in times like these," Tidwell said. "We're all human beings."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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