Local talent sparks Hokie team
Four inducted into Sports Hall of Fame
Game broadcasts available on Internet
Football players charged; Tech's proactive programming continues
by Gary Wheat and Netta Smith
Whenever the Lady Hokies play at Cassell Coliseum, starter Sherry Banks knows that she can always find her parents in the bleachers in section 11. And she can be sure that her sister and niece will be in their customary seats right behind the team. That kind of family support is one of the reasons Banks, who was a standout performer at Roanoke's William Byrd High School, elected to come to Virginia Tech four years ago.
"I really wanted the opportunity for my family to see me play on a regular basis," says the starter. "I enjoy being able to play in front of people who have followed me throughout my career."
When the Virginia Tech women's basketball coaching staff goes on the road to recruit, Coach Carol Alfano reminds them not to overlook local talent like Banks. She and her staff have been able to attract some of the area's finest athletes to the Hokie team, including Banks and starter Lynette Nolley. Nolley, who hails from Pilot, Va., about 15 miles from Blacksburg, continues to play the type of basketball that earned her recognition at Floyd County High School. "Virginia Tech was my first choice because, living in the area, I have followed the Hokie teams. Now I am able to be part of the excitement," says Nolley. The two women stepped into key roles after stellar high-school careers. With the start of the new season, they have become notable forces in the Hokies' quest for an Atlantic 10 Championship and another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Banks returned this season as the Hokies' lone senior. The 5'-7" guard has established herself over the past two seasons as one of the best perimeter shooters in the Tech record books. She is currently ranked among Tech's top 10 in career three pointers and three pointers in a season. Last season, she was second on the team in scoring with a 10.3 point-per-game average. Banks also distinguished herself as a fine rebounder, averaging 4.1 rebounds per contest. Nolley displays impressive ability in her second season in the Hokie starting five. For Tech, Nolley is still delivering consistent play as one of the A-10's premier power forwards. In 1995-96, the junior averaged 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in her first starting role. In her career at Tech, Nolley helped lead the Hokies to the NCAA second round as a freshman then helped a young team to an 11-17 mark in its first season of A-10 play. With experience like that under her belt, Nolley feels this Tech team is headed in the right direction.
The Hokies are using local talent not only to succeed this season, but also to build for the future. During this fall's early signing period for high-school players, Tech was able to ink area standout Sarah Hicks. Hicks led Lord Botetourt to the 1995-96 Group AA state championship and was named Timesland Player of the Year as a junior. Alfano says Hicks, with her scoring and rebounding ability in the lineup, should be a strong player.
"I really think the basis for any great college basketball team is using the talent in your area," Alfano says. "Coaches need to focus on keeping the great players home to create stronger teams and stronger community involvement in the sport."
Gary Wheat is an assistant director of sports information.
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Dell Curry, who electrified Virginia Tech basketball fans with his All-America play in the 1980s, was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame recently. This, the tenth year after his graduation, is the first year he has been eligible.
Also inducted were Dick Arnold, a trackman who was a three-time Southern Conference champion in the 1950s; Connie Sellers, who sparked the university to 17 straight golf wins over state teams in the late 1940s and later swept the Virginia State Amateur title; and the late George Smith, a football fullback/linebacker who helped lead Tech's 1932 team to an 8-1 record.
The new inductees bring the membership in the 14-year-old Hall of Fame to 78. Portraits of all members are displayed in the Bowman Room of the Jamerson Athletic Center.
All four of the Virginia Tech teams on which Curry played made it to post-season play, with a four-year record of 87-42. He ranks second in all-time scoring, just behind Bimbo Coles. Curry has gone on to NBA play with the Utah Jazz and the Charlotte Hornets, where he has won the NBA Award as the league's best sixth man.
Arnold was one of the Hokie's best trackmen of all time. He captured the Southern Conference indoor and outdoor championships in the 440-yard dash in 1955 and 1956 and swept the 440 title in the conference indoor meet in 1956. As co-captain of the 1956 team, Arnold sparked the Hokies to the Southern championships both indoors and outdoors for the first time in history. He now lives in Mendham, N.J., where he is employed by Allied Signals in government relations.
In 1951 Sellers was co-captain of the Virginia Tech golf team and won the Virginia State Amateur Championship. In 1987, he was elected to the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame. He has been employed for 41 years by the Provident Auto and Accident Insurance Company.
Smith won fame as a member of the 1932 football team, one of Virginia Tech's best teams of all time. A linebacker and hard-running fullback, he captained the team his senior year and won the prestigious Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
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Hokie fans with access to the Internet through a 14.4 modem or better, a web browser, and RealAudio software can listen to Bill Roth and Mike Burnop call Virginia Tech basketball and football games in "real" time.
The online action begins 30 minutes before the scheduled starting time for basketball games. More information on listening to the games through the Internet and a link to the (free) RealAudio software is available at http://sports.vt.edu/audio.html.
While you're visiting the RealAudio site, link back to the Hokie sports home page (http://sports.vt.edu/). There, you can find schedules of games and sporting events including men's and women's basketball, wrestling, indoor and outdoor track, golf, swimming, softball, volleyball, and other sports.
For those who want to engage in conversations about Hokie sports, check out the athletic chat room (http://sports.vt.edu/cgi-bin/chat).
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Two Virginia Tech football players were suspended from the team Dec. 17 after being charged with the rape and attempted sodomy of another Virginia Tech student.
"This is a serious charge, and the police would not have arrested them had they not sufficient evidence to support the belief that a crime has occurred," Virginia Tech Athletic Director David Braine said.
Starting fullback Brian Edmonds and reserve wide receiver James Crawford countered the charge by filing a lawsuit accusing their alleged victim of several crimes -- including extortion -- on the night she said she was attacked. Blacksburg police are investigating the incident.
Eight Virginia Tech football players (including Edmonds) and a former football player were indicted Nov. 6 by a grand jury in Blacksburg in connection with the alleged beating of Virginia Tech track star Hilliard Sumner on Aug. 31. Another is charged with an unrelated abduction of a visiting student. Court dates are set for mid-February. Coach Frank Beamer suspended six players for one game and two players for the season. The team consists of 108 players.
"Regardless of the final adjudication, even the appearance of impropriety by Virginia Tech athletes impugns the integrity of the entire program. We will neither condone nor tolerate it," said Virginia Tech President Paul Torgersen, following Beamer's action. "Withholding the privilege of representing Virginia Tech in athletic competition is a fair and appropriate response."
Beamer emphasized that the suspensions do not indicate he sees the players as guilty, but that he feels they should be punished for "putting themselves in a position to be charged with violations."
College athletes are role models and should be held to a high moral code, said President Torgersen. "Representing the university in college athletics is a privilege not taken lightly," said Torgersen. "I believe Virginia Tech athletes should exhibit and be held to the highest standards of sportsmanship and moral values."
Beamer has stressed the family theme in his 11 years as Tech's head football coach, emphasizing to his players the importance of representing themselves, their teammates, and the university in an honorable way. His proactive moves in the past three seasons include bringing in an FBI agent and a police chief to present programs on drugs, requiring attendance at a play where the topic was sexual harassment, and mandating special counseling in alcohol education.
Beamer has also encouraged players to enroll in a voluntary program, sponsored by the Division I-A athletic directors, to help athletes progress in the areas of career development, personal development, academics, athletics, and community service.
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