BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer arrived at his office Monday morning expecting to spend the day planning his team's afternoon spring practice session.
Instead, his day was consumed by efforts to make sure his players still were alive. He wasn't the only one. All coaches for Tech's athletic teams were burdened with the same morbid duty.
After news spread Monday that a gunman had killed 33 people, including himself, and injured 15 more on the Blacksburg campus, coaches scrambled to get in touch with players. Tech athletic director Jim Weaver had good news to report on an otherwise terrifying day.
"To our knowledge, everything we've been able to check, our athletes are OK," Weaver told the Daily Press. "We're hanging in there. It's been a different kind of day just because of everything and what's happened and what's going to happen tomorrow."
All athletic practices and events at Tech were canceled Monday and will be canceled today.
A message left for Seth Greenberg, Tech's men's basketball coach, wasn't returned. Sources inside the athletic department who didn't wish to be quoted confirmed all of the men's basketball players were accounted for and unharmed. The sources added forward Deron Washington was unable to be reached, but he was not in Blacksburg on Monday and was presumed safe.
By late afternoon, the football coaches were successful in tracking down most of their players. Still, the horror of the day's events left plenty of wounds.
"It was one person," Beamer told the Daily Press. "Evidently, one person caused a lot of sadness today. We had one (player) that had a class in (Norris Hall, where most of the shootings took place), but we talked to him. His class was scheduled after (the shootings). We don't think anybody else (on the football team) had a class in that building.
"I'll make a statement at the appropriate time, but I think it's just one person that caused a lot of heartache."
The football team is in its final week of spring practice and has its annual spring game scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Beamer, a Tech alumnus, said he would determine today how to proceed with scheduled practices Wednesday and Friday and the spring game.
Jim Cavanaugh, Tech's recruiting coordinator and strong safety and outside linebackers coach, said the football coaches split up the player phone tree according to positions. It wasn't easy contacting some players on the phone.
"The problem with that is that the air is filled with cell phone traffic and we're having a lot of trouble getting in touch with people," Cavanaugh said at about 2 p.m. Monday.
Brenden Hill is living in Blacksburg after graduating from Tech in December. He's using the school's athletic training facilities to work out in preparation for the upcoming NFL draft.
On Monday morning, Hill said he was hoping to work out later in the day, but wasn't sure if he'd be able to make it because buildings were locked down until early in the afternoon. He was more concerned about his former teammates.
"I'm worried about some of my teammates over there," Hill said. "I hope they're all OK."
"The weather has been so bad out here that I don't know if a lot of students were out in the first place. The weird thing is that we've had some bomb threats the last couple of weeks, and everybody is a little frustrated with the Blacksburg Police Department. "The campus police is usually pretty good about getting information out to us, but there's very limited information being distributed on this thing today."comments powered by Disqus