News Journal

Page 8 • Wednesday, April 8, 2020 • Radford News Journal www.ourvalley.org Unlike past years, the 2020 Run in Remembrance won't feature a big crowd at the starting line. Run in Remembrance to be virtual this year Every year alumna AshleyWin- keler joins thousands of other Hokies who take part in the 3.2- mile Run in Remembrance. She said that won’t change this year. Even though the world around all of us has. Winkeler and countless others will participate virtually. From April 16-18, Virginia Tech will host a virtual run during a three-day period to encourage proper distancing and to adhere to state and local public health guide- lines. Hokies can run, walk, or jog on their own and post a picture online using #VT32Run. “Our university's motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” Win- keler said. “This is a way for us to live out Ut Prosim and connect with Hokie Nation. It doesn't matter how you cover the 3.2 miles. What truly matters is hon- oring and remembering those who were lost.” The annual community event is now in its 12th year and draws tens of thousands of Hokies to Blacks- burg to honor and remember the 32 students and faculty who lost their lives on April 16, 2007. Amid the worldwide effort to combat COVID-19, Virginia Tech Rec Sports announced last month the traditional event would be canceled, but has worked to or- ganize a virtual offering to bring Hokies together while maintain- ing social distance. “For years the run has been a way for all Hokies to remember and celebrate the lives of lost Hok- ies and be in community,” said Alison Cross, Rec Sports director. “By asking people to share their experience virtually, we hope ev- eryone continues to see the power of this event.” Cross added that the exact dis- tance isn’t important, but rather to him," said Shawn's mother, Viola Smith. "I guarantee you she's smiling right now." The Hokies (25-10) missed a chance to win in regulation. With 33.4 seconds to play, Mar- quette freshman guard Aaron Hutchins, a 72.9 percent free- throw shooter, tied the game at 57 with a foul shot, but missed his second attempt. Tech freshman point guard Myron Guillory, who was aver- aging just eight minutes of play- ing time per game, was in the game because sixth man David Jackson was struggling. Guil- lory – who played 19 minutes and nailed a key trey with 2:19 left in regulation – tried to find Smith in the post, but Abraham did a good job of fronting him. Tech chose not to call a time- out, and Guillory drove to the basket with time running down. His layup was short. Marquette got the rebound, and Pieper al- most connected on a midcourt runner at the buzzer that hit the front of the rim. When they pull out their tapes of the game to reminisce, most Tech fans will fast-forward through the first half. The Hok- ies missed 15 of their first 17 shots and shot just 27.6 percent from the floor. "That was one of the ugliest games I've ever seen," Tech head coach Bill Foster said. "We just encouraged our kids to hang in, hang in, hang in, because things couldn't get worse." Despite its shooting woes, Tech led 21-19 with 3:10 left in the first half before Mar- quette went on an eight-point run and took a 27-21 lead at intermission. The Golden Eagles led by as many as 10 in the second half, thanks to the quick guard play of Hutchins and Tony Miller and the inside play of Amal Mc- Caskill. Things began to turn Tech's way when reserve Chris Craw- ford fouled at the 3:56 mark. At that point, "we wanted to keep sticking the ball inside." With 1:59 left, McCaskill fouled out. "When he went out, we had an advantage as far as inside moves and post moves," Smith said. Ultimately, the difference was the free-throw shooting – and not just Smith's late ones. Marquette finished 6-for-16 from the line, while Tech was 20-for-26. "It was a hard fought, de- fensive game," Deane said. "It was good to watch, but it wasn't pretty. There was nothing intri- cate going on. We ran our sets, and they ran theirs. There wasn't a lot of pressing. It was just two teams going head-to-head." Memory from page 7 PHOTO COURTESY OF VT ATHLETICS Brian Chase played professional basketball for more than 12 years and now is mentoring and coaching kids in Washington, D.C. Former Hokie now making a difference for children in his community After a 12-year profes- sional basketball career, for- mer Virginia Tech standout Brian Chase is back home in his neighborhood in Wash- ington, D.C., working with kids in a middle school. Chase works at a middle school, mentoring, coach- ing, and teaching young children in one of the tough- est environments in the country. "That was always the plan," Chase said. "I love kids. I wanted to give back to my community, especially inWashington, D.C. It's not easy here. My neighborhood is one of the worst. It's like that all over the country, but I've always wanted to give back to it, and I've been for- tunate enough to build some relationships over the years and come across people from all walks of life here. I was able to get back into my neighborhood, and I'm working at a middle school in my neighborhood. But that was always the plan. "Coaching is always something that I feel like I naturally did even when I was playing. Just trying to come up with solutions to win a game or put ourselves in position to win a game. Just trying to galvanize the troops. That's always been a part of who I am, both teaching and coaching.They intertwine with one anoth- er." Chase shared the pain and frustration this spring of an older group, the student- athletes who didn’t get to participate in the cancelled NCAATournament. "I'm feeling for the kids," he said via a phone call last week. "You've got these guys that work so hard to get to a certain point, and it's a thing where you have the season cut short because of this pandemic, which is a bad, bad thing. But I more so feel for them. It's more devastating for me knowing that they're not going to be able to play than for me to watch them as a fan. "I feel for them. You've got guys that are seniors that had championship as- pirations, and they still have NBA aspirations, but who knows what could have happened? You're missing opportunities. It's a tough thing." Chase played at Tech from 1999-2003, and while he never played in anNCAA Tournament, he certainly took advantage of his op- portunities. A 1,000-point career scorer, the Washing- ton, D.C., native led Tech in scoring during the 2000- 01 season (12.9 ppg) and in total points (297) and the following season (317). All of that helped propel him toward a professional bas- ketball career that lasted 12 years. After he graduated with a degree in human devel- opment in December of 2003, Chase spent the next three seasons pursuing his NBA dream. He played in the American Basket- ball Association (ABA), the Continental Basketball As- sociation (CBA) and the National Basketball Devel- opmental League (NBDL), including a stint with the Roanoke Dazzle. In the summer of 2006, he secured a workout with the Cleve- land Cavaliers. But then a call from Kevin O'Connor, the general manager of the Utah Jazz at the time and the father of former Tech women's basketball stand- out Katie O'Connor, led to Chase heading to Utah. "They invited me to come for a tryout and play for their summer league team," Chase said. "I did that and played extremely well. Then they invited me to their vet camp. That was in 2006, and the rest was pretty much history after that. I made the team." Chase spent the early part of the 2006-07 season on the Jazz roster before get- ting caught up in a num- bers game and ultimately getting released. He landed with Los Angeles Lakers' NBA D-League team, and he averaged better than 16 points per game en route to an NBA D-League All-Star Game appearance. "We were the only team in the D-League at the time that was owned by an NBA franchise," Chase said. "I had access to the entire fa- cility. All our games were at the Staples Center before the Lakers games. I was for- tunate enough to be able to watch Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and watch the Lak- ers practice every single day. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to every single home game. We just stayed in the tunnel after our game, and that kind of catapulted my mindset and thought process about a lot of differ- ent things." Chase went home that offseason and worked out with former NBA star Gil- bert Arenas, who was play- ing for the Washington Wizards. Chase played in a D.C. summer league, and he happened to catch the eye of former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, who was working in the Miami Heat front of- fice at the time. He invited Chase to the veterans’ camp in Miami, and while Chase played well, he was released. Throughout his first four years of pursuing his NBA dream, he had received of- fers from numerous Euro- pean basketball clubs. As he made a name for himself on the NBA's summer circuit and in the developmental leagues, he found the offers from the European clubs starting to become more lu- crative. In 2008, he decided to sign with a team in Turkey. He headed to Istanbul and spent the next eight years playing for teams through- out Europe. His stops in- cluded Turkey, France, Rus- sia, Spain, Bosnia, Croatia and Italy. "I loved it," Chase said. "My wife was with me the majority of the time until we got pregnant with our son. But my daughters actu- ally lived with me in Croa- tia.They visitedme in Spain. They were able to experience all of these different things that I never got to experi- ence that early, even though basketball took me all over the country and all over the world. "I remember one year I ran into Jamon Gordon [a former Tech guard]. We scrimmaged in the preseason one year. I was fortunate enough to see MalcolmDel- aney [another former Tech guard] play. He played in our building one year, may- be the second year out. Just to come across paths with old friends, old Hokies in a totally different setting, that was a big deal for me." Chase spent his last three professional seasons in Italy. There, Chase also formed a close relationship with his head coach who signed him when he took another job with a different Italian team before Chase's final season. Chase had planned to play a couple of more years, but a knee injury before his second season in Italy re- quired surgery. Though he returned, he lacked quick- ness and his timing was off. He bounced back and played well in what became his final season. At that point, Chase was an older player by European standards – and one with a previous knee injury. "I felt good about my- self physically, but at the time, I'm 35 or so, and you go into the next year, and they're still questioning your knee," he said. "You get the offer put on the table, and it wasn't enough for me to up and leave my family at that point. That's when I made a conscious decision to say, ‘That's it. It's time to go on to the next chapter.'" With a wife and three children, Chase decided to retire in 2016 and return to his home in Washington, D.C. He then spent two sea- sons as an assistant coach at Division II Bowie State be- fore resigning in September. He always had wanted to work with kids. A sum- mer job at a local Boys and Girls Club in D.C. the sum- mer before he arrived atTech reignited that desire. One of the kids in his group back then was Christian Web- ster, a current Virginia Tech men's basketball assistant coach. So now he mentors, teaches, and coaches middle- school kids, making a differ- ence in their lives. Chase also remains in- volved in a few business ventures. One of the more interesting ones centers on a mixed gender profession- al basketball league – the Global Mixed Gender Bas- ketball League – in which men and women play to- gether. He and a former high school teammate, Ber- nard Robinson (who played at Michigan), plan to form a team inWashington. Exhibition games have been played to bring atten- tion to the league, but lo- gistics continue to be ironed out, including finding an opening as to when a season can be played. "We don't have a launch date yet, but we're in the process of advertising for it just to showcase exactly what it is, so that when people do see it, it's not foreign to them," Chase said. "A lot of people still can't fathom the idea of men and women on the floor at the same time. Once people see it, it's very, very high quality." Even with his job, busi- ness interests and family – his 10-year-old son plays AAU basketball – Chase keeps in contact with a lot of his former Tech team- mates. That group includes Terry Taylor, Carlos Dixon, Markus Sailes and Shawn Harris. Yet he hasn't been back to Blacksburg in 14 years – something he hopes to change in the near future. "I do. I really, really do," Chase said when asked if he missed Virginia Tech. "Col- lege gave me a chance to grow up, and I had a lot of growing up to do. I didn't think so when I first walked on campus, but just from an attitude standpoint, I walked in there, and I had a lot of maturing to do. It was a different kind of situation for me by the time I left. I re- ally, really enjoyed my entire time there." --Jimmy Robertson, VT Athletics the sense of community Hokies can create. “We want everyone to join by walking or running, but any dis- tance will connect us to our goal,” she said. A printable bib is available on- line for those participating. Hokies are encouraged to wear their favor- ite orange and maroon and share photos online through their own social media channels or through the run’s Facebook event. Maddie Tran, a Virginia Tech junior, has lined up for the Run in Remembrance each year since she was a freshman, and she was determined not to miss it this year. A few weeks ago, she began mapping out a 3.2 mile course on a trail near her home in Oak Hill, Virginia. She plans to run the distance, starting at 9:43 a.m. on April 18, as part of the virtual event. She mentioned her plans to her Virginia Tech Sigma Kappa soror- ity sisters, and now, a group of her sisters will join her virtually on the same date and time. The students plan to take pictures of themselves after they complete the 3.2 miles and post them on the sorority’s In- stagram account. “When I first did it [the run] as a freshman, it was the first time where I felt that I was part of the Virginia Tech community,” said Tran. “Our making the run virtu- ally shows that we are still united and that we are part of Hokie Na- tion.” Tran is a member of Virginia Tech’s field hockey club team and plans to wear her maroon and or- ange field hockey tank top for the virtual run as she has done every other year. Winkeler, who is the com- munity service representative for the Pittsburgh chapter of the Vir- ginia Tech Alumni Association, has been working to encourage alumni in that area to participate. A 2018 grad, Winkeler quickly located fellow Hokies through the chapter when she moved to Pitts- burgh in May. When she heads out to do the run in two weeks, though, it won’t be in Pittsburgh. “Currently I'm at home,” she said. Winkeler is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh where she’s studying occupational therapy, and like students across the country her spring semester has been upended. “I’m at home in Blacksburg where my parents live. I'm just taking my classes online,” she said. “It's been an interesting transition to go to online learning. Our pro- fessors have been pretty support- ive, and it is nice to be home. It’s been an interesting change, but a good one.” --Virginia Tech

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