Jenkins, family look ahead in wake of tragedy

Published 10:42 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NEWBERN – May has been a tumultuous month for Sunshine High School head football coach Jonathan Jenkins and his family. The Tigers’ front man was all set to begin Spring practice with his team on Monday, May 4. The 10-day docket was to include the basics of revamped offense, the identification of key personnel and a Jamboree game against Francis-Marion.

However, those plans were quickly derailed on Sunday afternoon, May 3. Jenkins was sitting on the couch and flipping through the television channels at his parents’ Linden-based home when the house was suddenly rocked.

“I heard only one boom, so they hit at the same time,” Jenkins said of the two large trees that landed on the roof of the home after being felled by a storm system passing through the area. “Twenty-two years of coaching kicked in because I went into crisis management all of a sudden.”

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Upon impact, portions of the roof over the living, kitchen and dining room were caved in.

“Were getting ready for Sunday lunch,” Jenkins said of the normal activities that had been taking place seconds before the trees fell. After the impact, Jenkins began to assess the damage.

“I had to crawl out of the living room,” he said. “The attic had already caved in. So my immediate assessment was that I needed to get my parents out of the house.”

The SHS head coach made his way into the dining to find both of his parents near the table and unharmed.

“The opposite side of the table from where they were standing, the whole attic had caved,” he explained. “The kitchen was a disaster.”

From there, Jenkins and his family wasted little time exiting the home. They have since spent the last several weeks determining their next move.

“I feel for them having to go through this,” Jenkins said of watching his parents, who have been staying at Best Western in Demopolis since the incident, endure the difficulty. “But at the same time, it is uplifting seeing the way they handle it.”

The Jenkins family had the home built and moved into it in February 1967.

“Right now the plan is to rebuild,” Jenkins said. “The insurance company totaled the house.”

That ruling made the home and most of the Sunshine Tigers’ spring practice sessions the only two casualties of the incident; a fact for which Jenkins is quite thankful. Still, the head coach is remorseful that his team didn’t get its first opportunity to rebound from its lackluster 2008 campaign.

“We were supposed to s tart football practice the very next day,” he said. “The kids were pumped up and excited. They had all been in the weight room. We got three out of 10 (days) in. The spirit was high all three of those days.”

Sunshine will officially end its Spring semester later this week, putting the Sunshine Tigers closer to beginning preparations for 2009.

At that point, both of Jenkins’ families will be working on rebuilding and striving for better things.

“In life, we always have to deal with adversity and we don’t know where it is coming from,” he said.

After the events of of that Sunday afternoon, Jenkins is just happy he has both of those families completely intact.