Magic return to practice, teams donate to Hurricane Ian relief
At the Orlando Magic training facility on Friday, the lights were on and the water was running. Not everybody in the storm-ravaged state of Florida can say that right now, and some may not be able to for weeks.
The Magic aren’t losing sight of that.
The team returned to practice after two unplanned days off because of Hurricane Ian, which left behind a massive swath of devastation after it hit the state’s southwest coast, then brought flooding to the Orlando area before it kept churning north and took aim at South Carolina.
“Everybody’s dealing with something,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said.
Mindful of that, the DeVos family — which owns the Magic — announced that a $1 million donation will be made through its foundation for Ian-related relief efforts, earmarked toward those in Central Florida and the surrounding area that need it most.
“This community is resilient, and our thoughts and prayers are with those affected as well as the leaders and first responders who continually put neighbors first,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said.
Also Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik announced a $2 million pledge toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts — $1 million from both the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.
“In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come,” Vinik said.
His team had to relocate for some its training camp because of the storm, plus it rearranged its preseason schedule and delayed at least three season-opening fan and charity events scheduled for this weekend.
The Magic gathered for media day on Monday, then had their first practice of the season on Tuesday. Players and staff were told to be prepared for severe weather after that workout, and the team called off practice Wednesday and Thursday.
“No one ever wants to miss training camp, but we understand,” Orlando’s Wendell Carter Jr. said. “Can’t control the weather. It got really bad.”
Orlando plays its preseason opener at Memphis on Monday. The Magic obviously are behind schedule now, though Mosley doesn’t sound the least bit bothered by that given the reality of what’s happening around the state.
“We’ll move forward,” Mosley said.
Also Friday, the SMU-UCF football game was pushed back for a second time. It was originally set to be played Saturday, then was moved to Sunday and now won’t happen until Wednesday night in Orlando.
Colleges and high schools in the Fort Myers and Orlando areas are also in wait-and-see mode on when they can resume practices and games.
Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers made it through the storm without much damage to its campus, but because of the severe damage in that part of the state, including a disruption to the availability of running water, it isn’t planning to resume classes until Oct. 10 and isn’t sure when its Division I teams will resume practices and games.