September 19, 2001
Raiders struggled for normalcy during a week of tragedy
By TOM WILLIAMS
Ocean City High School closed early on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 - a day that will always hold a significant
place in this country’s history.
Raider teams did not practice on that day and no games were scheduled. But, like most other
Cape-Atlantic League schools, they resumed their practice and game schedules on Wednesday and
throughout the rest of the week.
“The tragedy was being talked about by the kids,” said boys cross country coach Bill Moreland, “but young
people are resilient. They seemed able to focus on running, though it’s hard to imagine what was on their
Some other high school leagues re-arranged their schedules. The Shore Conference postponed many of its
football games from Friday – declared a day of remembrance and mourning by President Bush – until
Saturday night or Monday. A few other New Jersey conferences did the same thing.
The NFL, NASCAR, major league baseball, the PGA and the LPGA cancelled their weekend schedules.
But they faced bigger security problems and the cancellation of many of the flights that would get them
from one city to another.
“I think our kids were happy for the distraction,” said girls tennis coach Wendy Nickles. “Nobody really
said anything but I’m sure a lot of things were going through their minds.”
Two former OCHS athletes had close calls during the tragedy. Amy Heiser, a hurdler on Mike Naples’
track team in the 1990s, was at work at 7 World Trade Center, a building right across the street from the
twin towers. But she escaped safely.
And Terry Howell, son of Dixie and an athlete at OCHS in the 1960s, worked in a building very close to the
Pentagon. He also escaped without injury.
Wildwood High School was the only CAL school to cancel a football game. The Warriors were to host
Bridgeton on Saturday night but the Board of Education instructed the athletic department to cancel the
game after an appeal from football coach Jamie Peterson. Wildwood eventually forfeited the game.
“The right thing for Wildwood High School, and every other school in the Cape-Atlantic League to do,” said
Peterson, “is not to play for one week.”
But the others did play.
There were moments of silence, patriotic music, collections for the Red Cross, candles, flags and lots of
red, white and blue. Nearly every coach that was asked thought it was the best thing to do, for the kids
and for the country.
Ocean City’s football team was not scheduled to play over the weekend. But, like all other Raider teams,
they did cancel practice on Tuesday.
“We talked to the kids on Wednesday,” said Coach Gary Degenhardt. “I’m having difficulty with this and
I’m not sure how each of them feel. My tendency is to keep plugging away, getting back to a regular
“A number of the kids were talking about giving blood. It was definitely something that was weighing on
their minds. I think we’re still affected by it but we, excuse the expression, need to move on.
“Some things are going to change, but kids adjust pretty quick. They aren’t as set in their ways. I don’t
think they will be able to forget what happened because it has been so widely covered and has already
created some changes.”
“But I think,” Degenhardt concluded, “that the important thing is to make every effort to get back to
Whatever normal may be.
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