On Monday afternoon, high school football players in the Moore, Okla., area were about to do what athletes do in the football-mad state: take to the field for a spring practice.

But the skies and forecast turned threatening, so at Southmoore High School, Coach Jeff Brickman’s players were indoors, watching film of a previous practice, when the deadly tornado struck.

“[I]t hit right when school was about to let out,” Brickman told the Tulsa World’s John E. Hoover. “All the kids in school were in shelters and we had a bunch of kids in the field house with helmets on in the bathrooms.

“It was pretty terrifying. It came right by the school.”

Brickman, who was a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma when a 1999 tornado struck in the same area as Monday’s, watched the storm approach.

“I went out to the door and saw it, and then I left and went back and it looked like it was maybe a hundred yards from the school,” he said. “The doors were shaking and there was stuff going everywhere. I’d never seen anything like that.”

Brandi Brickman, the coach’s wife, is a cheerleading squad sponsor who moved the girls into safety beneath bleachers.

“You say prayers. All those girls were crying. They thought, you know, that was it,” the coach said. “Luckily for us, but obviously not for other people, it missed us by about a hundred yards.”

They were safe, but Brickman says 16 of his players lost their homes.

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