It's amazing how quickly your perspective on things can change.
Yesterday afternoon, I had the opportunity to enjoy the Cincinnati Reds game against the Arizona Diamondbacks with four members of my family. The trip back wasn't nearly as much fun as the trip down as we bemoaned the Reds' lackluster performance that resulted in a 3-1 loss.
And while I was rather frustrated that my beloved Reds couldn't reduce their magic number from 10, I was also focused on getting back to Devola for the Marietta-vs.-Warren boys' soccer game. After all, my play time was done after the Reds game ended and now it was time to work.
As we got closer to Little Hocking the five of us noticed a large, dark storm system off to the east and we began checking radar, where we noticed there was a tornado warning out.
I'll be honest, we didn't think too much of it and we kept talking about our Reds. I began wondering whether or not there would even be a soccer game as lightning was flashing.
When we hit Ohio 339, the storm intensified as rain fell harder than I can recall seeing in my lifetime.
Still, I didn't really think anything about the weather.
I knew at that point there wouldn't be a soccer game due to the lightning, so I just headed into the office to get some other work done without a care in the world other than that my Reds got beat and I wasn't going to get to watch the Tigers and Warriors play.
But then I got into the office and heard that a tornado had touched down in The Plains about 7 p.m. Thursday night.
Those of us in The Marietta Times newsroom didn't really know the exact scope of the damages or how severe it was until late in the evening when I checked online and discovered that the tornado had not only hit The Plains, it had touched down at Athens High School and The Athens Messenger.
Pictures were posted on the discussion forum southeasternohiopreps.com, and the scale of the damage suddenly hit me.
There was a reference to a soccer game going on at the time the storm hit The Plains, and I knew that Kevin Wiseman, the sports editor of The Messenger, would've been at that game. So I picked up the phone and called The Messenger.
At that point, concern crept into my mind.
There are no words to describe the feeling that comes from trying to call a friend or colleague involved in a disaster and not hearing them pick up the phone on the other end. It was disconcerting to say the least.
With no answer at The Messenger, I turned to Jackson County Times Journal sports editor Paul Boggs, who confirmed that Wiseman was at the soccer game, but that he was OK and now working out of the Logan Daily News.
A quick phone call down to the Daily News put me in touch with Wiseman. We were able to talk about the events that occurred, how he was in the press box just minutes before the tornado ripped it off the bleachers and flung it to the ground, how he was in the concession stand when the tornado ripped the roof off, sending those inside scrambling to find safety in the locker rooms.
Wiseman, another passionate Reds fan, joked about how he went from thinking about the Reds' loss and wondering how he was going to get two soccer stories done and lay out pages before deadline only to be wondering about his life.
The plus side, we noted, was that the storm hit on Thursday during a soccer game and not on Friday night during football, when there would have been hundreds of people in the stands to evacuate in a short order of time.
The storm ripped through The Plains quickly. As Wiseman put it, it went from not raining at all to a tornado in only minutes.
It was one of those moments you hope no one ever has to go through, but for the people of The Plains that was what they found themselves facing Thursday night.
Now comes the challenge of cleaning up the damages, which were widespread across Athens County from 15 homes damaged in Nelsonville to the destruction of a business on East State Street all the way to devastation in Belleville, W.Va. that claimed the life of a Wood County man.
Sports suddenly matter a little bit less to the mind than they did just a day ago, as concerns turn towards the people affected by this tragedy.
Life matters, and sports will inevitably be a part.
Athens High School will likely be unable to host another home game of any kind this fall due to the damages.
The Bulldogs will become road warriors out of necessity, but play on the sports field inevitably helps to overcome the fears of life.
It's played out before, in the days shortly after 9/11, and it will play out again for the people of Athens County, and Wood County, who begin the work of rebuilding after this disaster.
But one thing is certain as the work begins to clean up from this storm.
No one will be working alone.
And that's the nice thing about living in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
No matter how bad tragedy knocks us down, whether it be a flood, fire or even a tornado, there will always be a neighbor there with an out-stretched hand to help us back on our feet.
That's just the community we live in down here along the river.
And it's a legacy to remember and honor as our neighbors in surrounding counties work to rebuild.
Kevin Pierson is a sportswriter for The Marietta Times. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 376-5440.