Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer arrived at his office yesterday 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 yesterday 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 said. "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 [today]."
All athletic practices and events at Tech were canceled yesterday and 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 that all of Tech's men's basketball players were accounted for and unharmed.
The sources said that forward Deron Washington was unable to be reached, but he was not in Blacksburg yesterday and was presumed safe.
By late afternoon, Tech's 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 said. "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 tomorrow and Friday and the spring game.
Norm Wood writes for the Daily Press of Newport News, Va.