Sports Extra: 9/11 Remembered by the Wildcats

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Sept. 11, 2011

Editor's Note: Americans everywhere are taking time this weekend to reflect on the 10th Anniversary of 9-11. That includes K-State student-athletes who were only 8- to 12-year-olds at the time, to the members of the Wildcat coaching staff. The following are their thoughts and recollections on Sept. 11, 2001.

Shane Southwell, sophomore, men's basketball, a native of Harlem, N.Y.
"I was in the 4th grade and really didn't understand what was going on when my mom picked me up early from school. I was confused seeing so many sad people. Living in the city where it occurred, it affects me a lot more than others because we were more on-guard as a city."

B.J. Finney, freshman, football
"We had started gym class, but then were told to go back to our classroom where the teacher had the TV on. At first you just thought a Piper (plane) had exploded, but then that second plane hit. My friend's birthday was 9-11 and I turned to him and said, `So much for a happy birthday.' Who would do such a thing?

"Because of that day, when I see a veteran I try to shake his hand and tell him how much I appreciate what he did for this country so I can do what I love to do, which is play football. I say it from my heart. I have friends in the military who put their lives on the line every day. When they come home it's a joy to see them."

Kristi Knight, women's golf coach    
"I actually found out from one of my players who stopped by my office in Ahearn to see me. We turned the TV on and just sat there. It was so hard to believe. It made me angry. My mom is a flight attendant for Continental, so I kept calling her, but couldn't get an answer. It turns out she was sitting on the runway in San Jose because all the flights were grounded. She was able to call about 11 and we were on the phone when the first tower collapsed.

"The team was scheduled to play at Michigan State that weekend, which was canceled. We were blessed to be in Manhattan and not on the road with the team."

Shalin Spani, Coordinator of Office Operations, women's basketball
"I will always remember talking to Kelsey Hill (a former K-State teammate) and she was telling me how her dad was supposed to be in the World Trade Center on business those days, but somehow the travel plans changed at the last minute and he wasn't there.  That simple fact, the closeness and realness of the reality that he COULD have been there, it just brings the whole thing to a different level.  It is just something you can't describe. I will never forget the pit in my stomach when I rushed in to watch TV.  America changed that day, and so did everyone's life."

Boglarka Bozzay, senior, cross country, a native of Hungary
"We knew about it soon after it happened. I was in school and knew it was a big disaster. It was a major story for a long time. Now that I have been in America for several years, I know it would hit me much harder today than it did then."

Frank Martin, men's basketball coach
"I was running on a treadmill at the Marriott at the Atlanta airport. I was there on a recruiting trip. I went ahead and drove to Tifton, Ga., later to watch a junior college workout. I drove the two hours back to Atlanta trying to figure how I would get back to Boston on the 12th. I ended up driving the 15 hours to Boston."

Casie Lisabeth, equestrian coach
"I was a freshman at Texas A&M, sitting in an Animal Science class. The secretary of the professor came in and said something to him, and all of a sudden he said, "Class is canceled. You are welcome to go home now." I will never forget those words. A few minutes later the news came on a projection screen and we sat there for the next two hours in total silence. That day was the quietest I ever remember at College Station. I remember being terrified that I was at college all alone when something so tragic was happening in our country. Times like those make you want to be home with your family. Now I am proud at how quickly our country recovered from such tragedy and how much everyone has pulled together to get our country up and running again."

Danielle Zanotti, Director of Operations, women's basketball
"I went to school in a suburb of Oklahoma City so immediately everyone started having flashbacks of the Murrah building bombing. I believe this terrorist attack hit especially close to home for the people of Oklahoma City because only six years before the 9/11 attacks we had had our sense of security rocked by a senseless act of violence that left everyone with this same feeling of vulnerability, anguish, hurt, confusion, and even anger. It's these acts of violence like the WTC attacks, the OKC bombing, and the Columbine shootings that have shattered this generation's ability to feel completely safe doing everyday activities that we shouldn't have to be fearful from. But what I love and respect so much about this country and the people who comprise this great nation is our unwavering determination to be a resilient, strong, unified nation. While we may have momentarily been struck back by these attacks and left with a hole that could never really be completely healed, we came together at one of the most important times in our nation's history."

Jordan Voelker, senior, football
"I was in math class in middle school. The teacher stopped the class and turned on a TV. It was something you didn't believe could happen on our soil. You were just in shock. It was unheard of because something like that never happens ... someone mustering up the courage to do something like that to us. It makes you understand how you can lose everything in a minute."

Bill Snyder, football coach
"It was a Tuesday morning and Joan (Friedrich) knocked on my door telling me what happened. I've never watched so much television in all my life as I did on September 11. I am very much apple pie. There wasn't so much a fear as there was an anger over 9-11. I wasn't angered so much by why it was allowed to happen, but angered that someone could actually do this. I constantly tell young people not to take anything for granted, and it just made me think of how I, like so many others, had taken for granted the security of this country and our safety. It's something you never thought would happen on our soil."

Cliff Rovelto, track and field coach
"I had just returned from the Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia, and was still in the LAX airport. I had just board my flight without knowing what had happened. After 10 minutes, there was an announcement that we were to leave the plane and all flights would be delayed. As I got off the plane I noticed looks of bewilderment on the few remaining people in the terminal. Then there was an announcement that the airport was being shut down and to immediately leave the terminal.

"I started to see panic and fear and finally heard a few reports on what had happened. I got the last rent-a-car available and immediately left the area without directions or knowing where I was going. I listened to reports on the radio as I headed east just to get out of the area. I eventually stopped at a small town motel in Utah where I first saw TV reports. I drove through Utah, Colorado and western Kansas the next day and was struck by the wonderful patriotic people in our country, but also of those who do nothing but complain and blame others.

"For me, I was struck by the irony of how we were on the verge of war while 48 hours earlier I was at an athletic competition in the Goodwill Games that was designed to foster goodwill between countries like the USA and Russia. I understood at the time that this was a day that was going to change our lives forever."

Hannah Ribera, junior, equestrian
"I was 10 and in the fifth grade so I didn't understand the gravity of the situation at the time. Even today it is hard to imagine that it really happened, but I'm glad our country has come together to remember the innocent lives that were taken and how we were impacted by the tragedy of that day."  

Shalee Lehning, assistant women's basketball coach
"At that time I didn't understand the magnitude of what had happened.  My heart broke for all the families that were affected by this.  Little did I know it was an event that would impact every American.

"As the years have gone by, 9/11 caused me to notice how our country would pull together in a time of tragedy.  There were so many heroes that risked their life on that day and many lost them in the process.  To see how our nation has come together the last 10 years, I truly learned what it means to be, `Proud to be an American.' We will never forget the heroes of 9/11."

Jalana Childs, senior, women's basketball
"September 11 is a day that will forever be in the hearts and minds of Americans. I was only 11 and we were called in from recess. I could tell something was wrong because of the concerned look on our teacher's face. I was baffled that there were people in the world who intentionally would want to harm our country.  Now 10 years later I have a greater grasp on the event. I have become more grateful because I know that any day everything could be taken away from us in an instant."

Adam Porter, sophomore, cross country
"I was in 4th grade and a teacher came into the room all hysterical. We watched it on TV for about 30 minutes and then turned it off. It really didn't sink in until we got home. All through high school it was something we always spent the day talking about every 9/11."

JuliAnne Chisholm, senior, women's basketball
"I was 12 years old and in 7th grade when the attacks hit and I remember how classes were stopped. This prepared me to be ready to go home to Heaven whenever the time comes, whether it's on a flight, or eighty years from now. Another way I have certainly been affected is beginning to understand the risk those firefighters and policemen took in rushing into the towers because my fiancé is a firefighter, and it makes me a little nervous knowing that he too is rushing into burning buildings and risky situations. Even though the attacks were a decade ago, they still are continuing to have a growing impact on my life."

Kali Yates, junior, equestrian
"I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade when a teacher came into the room crying. I had no idea what was going on, or even what the Twin Towers were, but I knew something tragic had happened. Now I understand the impact 9/11 had on all of us and hope that as a nation we can unite and continue to work toward world peace."

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