Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Locke McAllister was just a few months away from entering high school when his life changed forever on May 22, 2011.
A hot, late-spring afternoon had given way to ominous storm clouds, and McAllister’s house was a target.
“It was really humid, just really hot,” McAllister said. “Nothing was expected to be weird. Then the clouds started shifting a little more and the (temperature) started to drop. We ran out to the front porch and the next thing we know, bam, it’s down at the end of the street. We ran down to the basement and just took cover. We prayed nothing bad would happen from it, and nothing bad did happen from it, other than losing the house.
The E-F5 tornado that day ripped through part of Joplin, devastating everything in its path, including McAllister’s house.
Over 150 died, with the number of injuries surpassing 1,100. It ranks as one of the 10 deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.
“I was thinking, ‘Is this going to be my last minute on earth? What do I have to expect?” McAllister said. “I was praying to God… I was just in the moment I guess. I didn’t know what to expect. I was trying to be calm, but I really wasn’t calm.”
At the time, McAllister was a member of the Springfield Soccer Club, along with current Missouri State player Parker Maher.
SSC Director of Operations Eric Sorlie remembered driving home from Kansas City on May 22 and receiving a text that said Joplin had been hit by a tornado.
“I reached out to Parker and Locke, I remember not getting any response from them in a day or so,” Sorlie said. “There was slow cell phone service, but I finally did hear from them and that they were OK.
"I just remember being like everyone else, going, 'Oh my gosh, what do you do now?'"
Following the tornado, McAllister recalled that he had a tournament in the State Cup coming up in about a week.
“I remember looking under the rubble, and my soccer bag was there with my cleats and ball,” he said. “Nothing was touched. It was so weird. I went and played the next week. It was hard because I wasn’t with my family. But it made me want to fight even more.”
"They don't make manuals for how to deal with catastrophes," Sorlie said. "But you have two choices: either sit around and whine about it, or get up and try to fix and enjoy what you have. Their family has gotten up, faced what they've got, enjoyed it, re-built it and come back."
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