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McDonnell to speak at commencement


irginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell will give the address for Virginia Tech’s 2010 University Commencement. The McDonnell speech is a continuation of a recent tradition of inviting new governors to speak at graduation. “Since 1990, all new Virginia governors in their first year in office have graciously accepted our invitation to speak to Virginia Tech’s graduating seniors,” said President Charles Steger, in a statement. “Gov. McDonnell has often expressed his strong support for higher education, and with his long and distinguished record of achievements in both the public and private sectors, I am very confident that his commencement address will provide great insight and inspiration to our graduating students.” A retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army, McDonnell served as a prosecutor with the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Serving as attorney general under Gov. Tim Kaine from 2006-09, McDonnell defeated Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds in November to take the governor’s mansion. McDonnell completed his undergraduate education at University of Notre Dame, before completing master’s work at Boston University. McDonnell received his law degree from Regent University. The commencement ceremony will take place Friday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Lane Stadium. by gordon block, news reporter

An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903

Thursday, March 25, 2010

COLLEGIATETIMES 107th year, issue 35

News, page 3

Features, page 7

Opinions, page 5

Sports, page 8

Discovering the future Engineering ‘beasts’ push vehicular innovations

Classifieds, page 6

Sudoku, page 6

Tech tumbles

RYAN ARNOLD features reporter The sign urges: Please don’t tap on the glass. The animals may be frightened. Virginia Tech’s College of Science does not maintain a zoo on campus, so who hosts the creatures? The Ware Lab is not truly home to monkeys or tigers, but rather engineering students with senses of humor. Within a military building, next to the power plant at the intersection of Stanger and Barger Street, the Ware Lab is 10,000 square-feet of workspace for 19 undergraduate engineering design projects. Inside, a machine shop boasts a wall of windows, onto which students taped the wildlife warning. “Everyone has, you know, their little jokes that go on to keep it kind of light, because you’re trying to get a lot of work done, but you don’t want to be stressed out,” said Stephen Riner, a senior mechanical engineering major. The Ware Lab represents many of the 14 engineering concentrations, including civil, aerospace, ocean and electrical. Riner is one of more than 20 students on the hybrid electric vehicle team, which is in the midst of a three-year competition sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. The EcoCAR challenge prompts 17 university teams to reduce vehicle fuel use and emissions without sacrificing elements such as safety and consumer appeal. Manipulating a GM-donated vehicle, Riner said the Tech team aims to submit an entry that achieves 100 miles per gallon. Using plug-in hybrid technology, the vehicle could travel 40 continuous miles on electricity from a household outlet. Located at the farthest end of the Ware Lab, the hybrid electric vehicle team cuts and grinds on the Chevrolet. The building is a long, narrow rectangle with a central aisle. Along either side of the aisle are fenced bays dedicated to each project — except for the human-powered submarine team, whose messy fiberglass landed


An engineer in the Ware Lab works on one of the team’s GM-donated vehicles. them a basement slot. The setup isn’t unlike zoo pens, though diving into the cages are often open As Hokies invent the future, and the beasts stories about research will run the show. appear in each issue this week. The bays vary slightly in size according to project demands. The Chevrolet car, for example, mandates a larger stretch than the autonomous aerial vehicle team, whose airborne product can occupy a desktop. Ware Lab manager Dewey Spangler said the building had no such organization when the college of engineering acquired it in 1998. “The space was pretty much empty,” he said, “but we couldn’t use it as empty space.” More than 100 years old, the building was previously a laundry facility. Spangler said it had no closed-pipe system, and large


floor ditches served as drainage for excess water. To support the projects — and meet updated legal codes — the building required significant renovations; however, the money to make it happen was not on hand. Joseph F. Ware Jr., a 1937 Tech graduate of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, learned of his alma mater’s setback. Spangler said Ware felt engineering students needed such an opportunity. Their textbooks conveyed theory, but their hands were idle. “They’re lacking that visualization of how a bolt goes onto a threaded rod,” Spangler said, paraphrasing Ware, “or how a weld actually connects two parts together.” A donation from Ware and his wife enabled the college to move forward, and it ultimately named the facility after its key contributor. By the summer of 1998, Spangler said the first projects shifted to the Ware Lab from scattered locations such as Patton and see ENGINEERS / page three

Grant funding earns Tech high research ranking LIANA BAYNE Virginia Tech prides itself on being a nationally ranked research university but still faces the challenge of finding funds for research projects. Much of Tech’s research funding comes in the form of federal research grants. Tech’s overall research expenditure for the 2009 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2009, was $396,682,000, and 72.8 percent of that funding came from federal sources. From those federal sources, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense constituted the majority of the projects, representing 20 percent and 18 percent respectively of federal expenditures. Following were the Department of Health and Human Services with 16 percent of funding, the Department of Agriculture with 12 percent, and the Department of Transportation with 9 percent. The largest portion of nonfederal funding came from c o m m e rc i a l diving into or sources in industry, which As Hokies invent the future, re pre s e nt e d stories about research will 11.28 percent, appear in each issue this week. $20,444,000, of






49th 51st

52nd 55th 55th







all research expenditures. Second were state projects, which provided 6.93 percent of all expenditures. Roderick Hall, associate vice president of research, said the National Science Foundation is the largest federal entity that works with Tech. Sponsored expenditures include all money spent on research that is reported, Hall said. However, there is a difference between all sponsored expenditures and expenditures that come from federal sources. Federal expenditures are research grants that professors can apply to receive through federal agencies like the National Science Foundation. “The federal government comes out for



54th 56th






news reporter

requests for proposals,” he said. “They decide where the best proposals come from.” If a certain federal agency accepts a proposal from a professor or group of faculty, that research team receives the funding money. There were 3,106 research proposals made at Tech in the 2009 fiscal year, which awarded a total of $148,411,000 from various agencies, the highest in the decade for one fiscal year. Fred Piercy, associate dean for graduate studies and research for the College of Liberal and Human Sciences, said research grant money, once it reaches a college, is divided between direct and indirect funding. “Indirect funding is what it takes to do the project,” Piercy said. see FUNDING / page three


Junior forward Jeff Allen attempts to rise above a Rams defender Wednesday.

POOR SECOND-HALF SHOOTING ELIMINATES HOKIES FROM NIT CONTENTION, SENDS HOOPS TEAM TO OFF-SEASON JOSH PARCELL sports staff writer Thanks to a horrid second-half shooting performance, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team was denied a trip to the National Invitational Tournament semifinals after a 7972 loss to Rhode Island Wednesday night. The Hokies shot 9-for-27 from the field in the second half, and the Rams ended the game on a 31-12 run, shocking the home crowd by snatching victory from the hands of defeat. With the loss, the Hokies end the season tied for the school record for wins in a season, finishing with an overall record of 25-9. “This game doesn’t take away from our season,” said junior guard Malcolm Delaney after the game. “We came together as a team ... and had a great season. Delaney finished with a game-high 24 points, adding four assists and three rebounds on the night. In the first half, the Hokies turned the ball over 11 times, but still managed to lead 42-40 at the break. When the second half began, Tech started off red hot, jumping out to a 56-48 lead. With 16:13 left to play, a jump ball gave the Hokies possession with seven seconds left on the shot clock. Tech gave the ball to junior guard Dorenzo Hudson, the hero of Monday night’s win over Connecticut. Hudson delivered, hitting a fade away 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to put the Hokies ahead by 10 with just more than 16 minutes to play. He would finish the game with 19 points. After that shot, however, the Hokies went stone cold. Tech did not hit a field goal for the next six minutes, and the Rams went on a 13-2 run, snatching a 61-60 lead.

“We stopped making good decisions ... they went on a run at the right time,” Delaney said. The scoring went back and forth until Rams’ Keith Cothran nailed a 15-foot jumper as the shot clock wound down to put Rhode Island ahead 73-71 with two minutes left. When the Hokies attempted to respond, junior forward JT Thompson was denied, powering to the basket to no avail, getting rejected in the lane by two Rams. Rhode Island sealed the deal on the next possession, when Lamonte Ulner rebounded his own missed layup and made the put back with 10 seconds remaining. “The last 14 minutes I didn’t know who they were,” Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said. In the final seconds, Delaney made it to the free throw line but converted on just one of two attempts, and when the Rams responded with two free throws of their own with 5.8 seconds to play, the Hokies’ hopes vanished. The final score would go on to read 79-72 in favor of the Rams, and Greenberg wasn’t happy with that. “If someone scores 13 straight points on you, it’s probably (because of) really bad defense,” Greenberg said. “We didn’t guard the ball at all.” Despite the loss, Dorenzo Hudson capped an overall spectacular three-game run in the NIT. He averaged 21.7 points per game during the tournament. In a way, the game mimicked the Hokies’ season. After having seemingly locked up an NCAA Tournament bid, several untimely miscues down the stretch ultimately kept them out. Optimistic Hokie fans can look through the loss to see that only one player that saw action tonight, Lewis Witcher, will not be back in 2010-11. “We’ve got to get better,” Greenberg said.

march 25, 2010

page 2

Empty Bowls: Artist Benefiting Haiti Relief


Friday, March 26 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Armory Gallery on Draper Road


ver the past eight weeks, students and faculty from the School of Visual Arts have been making ceramic bowls to sell at a fundraiser that will benefit Haiti. The goal was 300, and tomorrow, 307 bowls will be sold at the event for prices ranging from $5 for the smaller bowls to $15 for the larger bowls. Each bowl started out as a lump of clay. The clay was then thrown on the wheel to get the basic form and then

refined down to the desired shape. Once the bowl dried, it was fired in a kilm for the first time. After the first firing, the bowl was waxed on the bottom to resist the glaze so it would not stick to the bottom of the kiln during the second firing. The bowl was then decorated with glazes and underglazes using a variety of techniques including dipping the bowl in a bucket of glaze, painting on underglaze or glaze, or pouring the glaze over the bowl. The bowl was then reloaded into the kiln for the second firing. After the bowl’s final firing, it is ready to be purchased and filled. For more photographs, go to the Collegiate Times Web site and click “Empty Bowls Gallery.”

march 25, 2010

page 3

Engineers: Lab research draws corporate, school visits from page one

Randolph Halls. Arthur Klages, another alumnus, contributed to the Ware Lab’s early development. A 1942 industrial engineering graduate, Klages was a machinist who founded the Burlington Handbag Company and patented several devices related to sewing operations. After retiring, he offered some of his machines to what is now called Klages’ Machine Shop in the Ware Lab. Today, Klages Machine Shop contains 11 major pieces of equipment that Spangler estimates are worth $250,000. The Ware Lab also houses a computer room, where five computers offer more than 15 programs that aid engineering design. “We’re envied by other (engineering) departments because we’re so self-contained,” Spangler said. “You can do your CAD work in one room, walk over and build your car in one other room, and (in) 10 steps go fabricate a part for that car.” Spangler said colleges including Duke, North Carolina State and Penn State have visited the Ware Lab. “They want to emulate us,” he said. “They say, ‘This is the way to do integrated undergraduate team project work.’” Spangler said more than 1,000 people tour the Ware Lab each year, so interest transcends just universities. Corporate sponsors and K-12 student groups filter through, as well as prospective Tech students. Since engineers sometimes endure an introverted stereotype, Spangler said the openness of Ware Lab forces them to articulate their endeavors. “I think one of the strong components of Ware Lab is that we get these students out of their shell,” he said. Speaking smoothly to corporations and organizations is critical when they provide materials and money, among other things. Spangler said the list is approximately 20 and continues to grow. Goodyear makes sure students get Tech’s formula-style racecar rolling. Baker Hughes tag-teamed with GM to supply a Sierra pickup truck and 36-foot-long trailer that transports the racecar and other projects, such as the Baja all-terrain vehicle and the Blind Driver Challenge vehicle, to test courses and competitions. Senior mechanical engineering major Kimberly Wenger said


Members of the Virginia Tech Motorsports group participate in building a formula racing vehicle in the lab for a competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. the Blind Driver Challenge team is negotiating with the National Federation of the Blind to acquire a 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid. The team refers to its current vehicle as a go-kart. Wenger said the Blind Driver Challenge began in 2005 when the NFB proposed the creation of a vehicle so a person who is blind could drive independently. Tech was the only university to respond and remains the only one invested in the initiative. The team holds weekly teleconferences with the federation and infrequently meets with some of its members for testing and feedback. “It’s really awesome to see the product that you’re making, using what you’ve learned in school, is actually helping somebody or a group of people,” Wenger said. Because the car is a first genera-

tion, Wenger said the 13-member team conjures up novel ideas. One of these is a product called AirPix. “One of our products is actually patent-pending,” she said. “So it’s like brand new ideas that you’re coming up with.” The AirPix interface is headed by senior mechanical engineering major Nina Camoriano. Its creation is the result of comments made by NFB President Marc Maurer. “He said that he wanted a refreshable tactile map that he could feel with his hands to give him some indication of the surroundings of the car,” Camoriano said. A grid of circles comprises AirPix. “It’s like an air hockey table,” Camoriano said, “except that the airflow to each orifice can be individually controlled as opposed to being all

Funding: Rank expected in August from page one

Indirect funding pays for items such as desks, telephones, “things we already have,” Piercy said. The majority of a federal grant goes to the actual research project. Robert Schubert, the associate dean for research for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, said professors across different colleges are collaborating with one another more frequently. Research is conducted in all colleges, not merely programs associated with science and engineering. Schubert said the College of Architecture and Urban Studies has worked with the National Science Foundation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Piercy said although “historians don’t generally have the same opportunities as scientists” to conduct research, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences drew in “about $10 million” of research funding during the 2009 fiscal year. The high amount of funds coming into each college contributed to Tech’s ranking in the top 50 in 2008. The university earned 46th in the nation in total research expenditures at last ranking. The 2009 fiscal year expenditures

exceeded the 2008 expenditures that earned 46th. Each year, the National Science Foundation ranks all universities and colleges by total research expenditures and federal expenditures. Although Tech ranked 46th in terms of total expenditure, it was ranked just 71st in terms of federal expenditures. Hall said the portion of non-federal expenditures were mainly “state research, (or funds) spent within the university but not external sources.” “If a professor spends time researching but it’s not externally funded, they can count those hours as research expenditures,” Hall said. The National Science Foundation has not provided the most current national rankings. Tech’s place of 46th overall and 71st in federal expenditures is based on the 2008 fiscal year, which reported $373,281,000 in overall research dollars and $135,578,000 in federal research dollars. Hall said the 2009 fiscal year rankings would be released during the summer. “It takes about six months before they (all universities and colleges) actually have the numbers come in,” he said. “The numbers are due in February, then it takes the NSF from February to August (to do the rankings).”

Although Tech does not know where in the rankings it will fall for the 2009 fiscal year, “we already know how much money we have reported,” Hall said. Hall said Tech’s current national ranking within the top 50 universities in terms of total expenditures has helped to attract graduate students. “We’re able to fund grad students who would not otherwise have been able to come to Virginia Tech,” he said. Schubert said even a “modest amount” of funding could help encourage both graduate and undergraduate students to participate in research projects that further the learning process. “Critical scholarship involves being able to answer questions,” he said. “Those mechanisms are fundamental to scholarship.” Hall said furthering research at Tech is important both in terms of the tangible results of the research and the more intangible benefits brought to the university. He said one of the benefits of research is “the prestige it brings to the university.” “Everybody’s degree becomes more valuable,” Hall said. “A lot of people use research as a proxy for how prestigious you are as a university.”

on or all off.” Lasers projected from the car register nearby objects, thus producing airflow in the appropriate portions of the AirPix grid. While such advancements are appealing, the Ware Lab is not strictly a site for innovation. Wayne Neu, faculty adviser for the human-powered submarine team, said the Ware Lab is a more general preparatory tool for his students. “Everybody’s looking for developing the next fancy piece of hardware,” Neu said, “but it’s not so much about that. It’s about developing people. ... It’s developing engineers that have a bent for the water.” Neu said collaborating with students fuels his position as a faculty adviser. Otherwise, the human-powered submarine team hardly finds its way onto his professional resume.

“Only the one line of ‘other activities,’” he said. “So it’s just one of those kind of service jobs.” Baja faculty adviser Richard Goff echoed Neu. “We feel like it’s a really valuable thing for the students to do,” Goff said. “It’s a much more engaging environment to be involved on a team like this with the students than it is to teach in a normal class.” Kimberly Wenger worked with the Baja team as a freshman and sophomore before shifting to the Blind Driver Challenge. Engineering students can contribute as volunteers through independent studies or as part of a senior design capstone. Since most of the projects compete each year or every few years, they must accommodate member shifts and graduation. Ware Lab manager Spangler said this mandates “infor-

mation transfer.” Some teams effectively mentor the rising generation. Goff said the Baja team has a fluid pipeline that sustains the project quality. Spangler said other teams falter, and he’s considering placing in a policy manual with the recommendation that upperclassman formally impart their knowledge to their successors. If they do not, would Tech engineers again endure a hands-off curriculum? Though not a current concern, Wenger said the thought is unnerving. “I couldn’t imagine sitting in a classroom for four years to learn engineering things and then actually being ready to take on a job out in the real world,” she said, “unless you just wanted to sit in a cube and chug equations for the rest of your life.”

4 news

new river valley news editor: zach crizer university editor: philipp kotlaba page B 540.231.9865

september 23, 2009 march 25, 2010


nation & world headlines


] Loop

Gates to begin dismantling ban on gays in military WASHINGTON—TheObama administration is expected to take the first concrete steps toward dismantling the ban on gays in the military service on Thursday, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates announces rules that will make it harder for other service members to force out suspected gays. President Barack Obama has called for repealing the military’s 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, with support from Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s highest-ranking military officer. Repealing the law requires congressional approval, but with lawmakers divided over the policy and overall policymaking stalled by fallout over passage of the health care overhaul, Gates is moving to roll back those provisions he can control without legislative action. The changes he’s expected to announce could protect as many as one in five of the servicemen and servicewomen who are kicked out because of their sexual orientation, according to two defense officials who were not authorized to speak on the record. They would make it harder for a gay person to be forced out purely on the basis of a sexual-orientation complaint from another service member, and would require any decision to go higher in the chain of command than is currently the case. by nancy a. youssef and margaret talev, mcclatchy newspapers

CORRECTIONS JUSTIN GRAVES -Contact our public editor at publiceditor@ if you see anything that needs to be corrected.

[Thursday, March 25] What: Chocolate Freedom Seder Where: Squires Old Dominon Ballroom When: 6 p.m. Cost: Free What: Take Back the Night Rally and March Where: Drillfield When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: The Mudbellies Where: Gillie’s When: 7 p.m. Note: Free What: Film — Hell’s Hinges Where: Pamplin Auditorium When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: Cutchins Distinguished Lecture — Peggy Noonan Where: Burruss Auditorium When: 7:30 p.m. Cost: Free What: Hokies United and Xclusive Sounds presents: Dance N Donate featuring Nice@Nite, Lova and Rhetorik Where: Hokie House When: 10 p.m. Cost: $3 cover

[Friday, March 26] What: Empty Bowls — Artists Benefitting Haiti Relief Where: Armory/SOVA When: 10 a.m. Cost: Bring cash to purchase bowls, benefits go to charities working in Haiti What: Seminar — Dr. Steve Whitmeyer, JMU Where: 4069 Derring When: 4 p.m. Note: Free

Wondering what’s going on around the ‘burg? Check out the events of the upcoming week.

What: Bradley Distinguished Lecture — Norman Abramson Where: 300 Whittemore Hall When: 4 p.m. Cost: Free What: Fever to Sing Festival Where: Downtown Blacksburg (locations vary) When: 7 p.m. Cost: Tickets are $20 and available at What: Virginia Tech Treble Choir Festival Where: Blacksburg Presbyterian Church When: 8 p.m. Cost: Free What: JazzChronic Where: Gillie’s When: 10 p.m. Note: Free What: The Shack Band Where: Awful Arthur’s When: 10 p.m. Cost: Cover

[Saturday, March 27] What: DOP presents — March Madness Dance Instruction Where: New Tech Fitness, 460 Turner St. When: 12:30 p.m. Cost: Registration only $5 What: Holding Half the Sky — Oni Lasana with Nikki Giovanni Where: Squires Colonial Hall When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: Jake and the Burtones Where: Gillie’s When: 7 p.m. Note: Free What: Class of 2011 Formal Ring Dance Where: Squires Commonwealth Ballroom When: 8 p.m. Cost: Free

What: Emancipator w/ Chronicles of the Landsquid Where: Awful Arthur’s When: 10 p.m. Cost: Cover Note: Ages 18-20 must arrive before 10 p.m.

[Sunday, March 28] What: African Women A Capella Benefit Concert Where: The Women’s Center, 206 Washington St. When: 6 p.m. Cost: Free What: Student Recital — April Osgood and Ariel Miller Where: Squires Recital Salon When: 8 p.m. Cost: Free

[Monday, March 29] What: Sustaina-Seder, Passover Seder Where: The Inn at Virginia Tech When: 6 p.m. Cost: $35

[Tuesday, March 30] What: Blacksburg Cafe Scientifique: Mathematics Aided Medicine Where: Awful Arthur’s When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free

[Wednesday, March 31] What: Film — Sex Ed: Then and Now Where: GLC Meeting Room F When: 5:30 p.m. Cost: Free

[All Week] This week, the Lyric is showing “Crazy Hear” starring Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges. Check out for showtime information.

What: Pick up your 2011 class ring Where: Squires Williamsburg Room When: March 23-26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Note: Bring a picture ID and any final payment

If you would like an event featured in our calendar, e-mail with event details, including cost.


nation & world headlines


US, Russia close to deal to slash nuclear arsenals WASHINGTON — American and Russian officials have reached a deal to slash their nuclear arsenals after eight months of unexpectedly tough negotiations, sources close to the talks said Wednesday. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, who ordered the negotiations begun last July, still must sign off on details of the agreement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday. The two presidents are expected to sign a treaty in Prague, Czech Republic, next month. by paul richter, mcclatchy newspapers

Democrats turn to financial regulation after health reforms WASHINGTON — With health care legislation all but completed, the Obama administration and key Democratic lawmakers pledged Wednesday that passage this year of a sweeping revamp of financial regulation is now the next legislative priority. “This is now the No. 1 issue that the American public is going to be focusing on,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told reporters after a strategy session at the White House. Both the House and Senate regulatory bills would create new authority to break apart giant financial firms whose failure poses risk to the broader U.S. and global economy. The legislation also would create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to police consumer credit products such as mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and the like. by kevin g. hall mcclatchy newspapers

opınıons 5

editor: debra houchins COLLEGIATETIMES

march 25, 2010

The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903

Your Views [letter to the editor]

Beyond Coal has reasonable goals


his is a response to the letter written by Greg Stecher, “Beyond Coal unrealistic” (CT, March 23). He wrote that Beyond Coal’s goal to reduce emissions to between 60-70 parts per billion is unrealistic. I want to make it clear that this ozone limit is not an arbitrary level that the campaign came up with. This is the level that the EPA is proposing based on the recommendations of doctors and scientists. Using an ill-formulated analogy, Stecher also claimed that the current average level of ozone, 80 ppb, is “an extremely low amount of emissions.” Yes, the concentration of ozone is relatively small compared to other components of air — but shouldn’t we really be looking at the effects of that concentration of ozone? Research shows that between 4,000-12,000 premature deaths will be avoided yearly if the ozone limit of 60-70 ppb is established. Reducing emissions will also save our country billions of dollars in annual health care costs. Stecher wrote that “(Beyond

Coal) wants Virginia Tech to be powered by geothermal, wind and solar energy.” However, the campaign has never specifically advocated an alternative energy source to replace coal. No one in Beyond Coal claims to be an expert in the field of alternative energy. A crucial component of its goal to eliminate coal use by 2020 is getting scientists and researchers involved in determining the most feasible energy sources for our area. It is for that reason that Beyond Coal is insisting that President Charles Steger immediately commission an alternative energy task force. Finally, we can make no claims as to how renewable energy would affect tuition until a study is completed. However, coal-powered energy costs at Tech have increased by about 50 percent over the past five years. Coal is not the cheap fuel that people think it is. As the amount of coal in our country decreases, prices will continue to escalate. Shouldn’t we begin making an investment in renewable energy?

Sarah Grant Sophomore Communication major Beyond Coal intern

Alcohol policy not effective for Tech V

irginia Tech students spend approximately $225,000 out of pocket each year in reparations for the grievous crime of underage drinking. That money could be spent on improving the energy efficiency of buildings, hiring new faculty, lowering tuition or funding new research. Instead, the money goes to conducting repetitive and ineffective alcohol education classes run by both the school and local government. Of course, the most sensible change would be for the school and local police to stop prosecuting underage possession of alcohol violations. There is little chance of this happening, as the school’s judicial system believes its job is to address every infraction of the law that we students commit. This is demonstrated by the repeated mantra, “It is illegal and therefore a policy violation,” on its Web site, where it outlines all the fun things you are not supposed to do. Under Virginia law, fornication — that means sex between unmarried partners — is a Class 4 misdemeanor. Thankfully, the judicial system has enough rationality not to hand out illegal sex conduct referrals. So why can’t they treat underage drinking the way they treat consensual premarital sex? Both are illegal and potentially harmful, but adults are old enough to make their own decisions and the school’s judicial system should turn a blind eye to both. Perhaps the root of the problem lies with administration officials thinking alcohol consumption is a serious problem for the school. Last year, the Virginia Tech Alcohol Abuse Prevention Taskforce released a report detailing consumption statistics of students compared to state and national averages. It found that we enjoy 13.2 drinks per week on average. The taskforce was apparently shocked and appalled by this number, so it then outlined a strategy of 25 steps aimed at lowering alcohol use by students. Unsurprisingly, the strategy involves more of the same education and more law enforcement. It even goes as far as suggesting the banishment of students found guilty of alcohol violations from all athletic events for the year. To put things in perspective, consider that the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine recommends two drinks a day for a healthy heart. This comes out to 14 drinks per week — above the 13.2 we are currently consuming. Tech students are drinking below the doctor’s suggested level. Considering heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, regular consumption of alcohol should be part of a healthy lifestyle. Tech officials will not even entertain the notion of addressing this side of the issue. They instead opt to continue their narrow–minded viewpoint that all drinking is misuse and abuse of alcohol. The school’s failed alcohol poli-

cies directly affect the Greek community as well. According to the Code of Conduct in the Hokie Handbook, all forms of kegs are barred from Oak Lane fraternity housing. Oak Lane consumes approximately 38,000 beer cans per year, or the equivalent of 230 kegs. By allowing kegs in Oak Lane, the school can not only save its students some money, but also lower the impact on the environment by removing 38,000 aluminum cans from the landfill every year. Drinking beer from a keg does not produce waste which makes it the greenest way to get tipsy. School officials also tightly regulate parties in Oak Lane whenever alcohol is served. All events where more than 120 people will be present must be registered and approved by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life in advance. Part of its rationale for determining the number 120 is that it has “taken into account that some organizations have membership exceeding 100 but not higher than 120.” This is outdated and incorrect as Tech’s Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity chapter, located in Oak Lane, reported 143 members last spring. Tech has made one recent change to the policy, but not one that any student is happy with. As of this semester, your parents will now be notified of all of your alcohol policy violations. Not only is this an insult to our independence and adulthood, but also the “I’m telling your mommy” technique is a political maneuver usually reserved for nine-year-olds. Telling our parents that we’ve been naughty serves no purpose other than to exacerbate the already rampant cases of Helicopter Parent Syndrome. Perhaps there is hope in the future that things will change. In July 2008, President Charles Steger, along with more than 100 other university presidents across the country, courageously and commendably signed onto the Amethyst Initiative. The Amethyst Initiative is a nationwide campaign to lower the legal age for drinking alcohol. Although the law is unlikely to change anytime soon, it is comforting to know that our university’s president cares about the issue. Until then, we will keep drinking, keep getting conduct referrals, keep getting fined and keep sitting through unhelpful alcohol education classes. So next time you’re in “Reality Check: Party Positive” or VASAP’s “Young Offender Program,” try imagining what kind of awesome alcoholfueled party you could throw with $225,000.

ERIC WOOD -regular columnist -graduate student -mechanical engineering


Open sexual expression should be extended to all “K

eep your sexuality in the bedroom” is one of the most common lines uttered in defense of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people — or anyone, for that matter, who practices differently from the monogamous, one man, one woman style of love and relationships. It’s good advice and unfortunately heterosexuals don’t take it. There are few things more disturbing to me than seeing a man and woman sucking face on the D2 promenade for everyone to see. These couples are shameless, libidinous and vulgar. Their ribald actions even go so far as to grope, slap their partner’s bottom and nibble on one another’s ears — and in such places as Deet’s and Owens no less. These are the same people who, if they were to come upon a lesbian or gay couple doing similarly, or, God forbid, a cross-dresser, would have a seizure and begin claiming that LGBT agendas were being forced into their faces. As a group, the heterosexual community often demands that sexuality be low-key, a kind of backdoor deal that if displayed is only appropriate as long as it is the “right” kind. Some people have even gone so far as to ponder why sexuality creates groups, similar to race, class and gender. It is of little question when one examines the pervasive ways in which heterosexism enforces gender norms and sexual behavior, forcing all others into a closet. Assumed gay relationships are hardly tolerated in both public and media spheres, and yet few really examine how much heterosexual sexual matter is pushed on both these fronts. From movies to commercials to reality TV, it is nearly exclusively heterosexual content. One could count on his hands the number of shows in these categories that focus wholly, or even partially, on alternative relationships. I could write an encyclopedia-sized volume

of the shows and media outlets geared toward this singular, and arguably by comparison, narrow set of heterosexual relationships. Even CBS, in an attempt to keep viewers comfortable, refused a Super Bowl commercial that showed two men making out after their hands touched in the chips bowl. It was a comic and entertaining clip that would have had people rolling — but it wasn’t the “right” kind of comedy for the insecure heterosexual and Christian majority. My guess is because it promoted such relationships. Any media outlets that do exist for the LGBT community are highly stylized and stereotyped, working with the limited knowledge that the heterosexual community has about this marginalized group. Because flaming gay individuals are so easy to spot, many heterosexual people assume they are the majority in manner, behavior and attitude. This is such a confounding mistake on the majority’s part and is evidence of its complete ignorance on the subject matter. This desire to typecast an entire group of people is often the approach of individuals unwilling to invest any kind of recognition into a group’s diversity of interests and ideologies. Women and ethnic minorities have been treated no differently in the past and even presently are still subject to a vast array of double binds that abate them from expressing a consummate identity. The question of group mentality within the gay male community, which is the only group I can speak personally about, has developed an entire subculture in response to the oppressive sexual society we live under. Donald Webster Cory’s 1951 work, “The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach,” outlines this subculture beautifully. More than half a century later, it remains entirely germane to homosexual culture and times. Similar subcul-

tures exist within the lesbian, feminist and transgender communities. These underground societies are completely under the radar of most heterosexual people, a product of the majority’s rabid attempts to bury whatever power and recognition the invisible societies assume. If people are going to argue that sexuality be a “bedroom” issue, then they should practice it. That means no kissing, issuing “I love you’s” or any other behavior that could be construed as sexual in nature. Somehow, though, I do not think this would fly with heterosexuals at large. They tend to be a people who enjoy broadcasting their relationships, especially the young folks. The words and actions of heterosexuals against homosexual expressions of love are unfounded and hypocritical. I can’t even think of a time on this campus when I saw two people of the same gender holding hands, much less snogging like pigs in a public forum. The fact is there are rarely, if any, gay expressions of affection on this campus. And the moment one materializes the world acts as though a campuswide orgy has taken place. It is clearly unreasonable to argue that sexuality should be concealed. It is an intricate and powerful aspect of the human condition and shapes many of our actions, attitudes and ideologies. If this were not true, such discussions would not even be on the table. And if it is a significant enough issue to write policy against, and to discriminate against, then it is certainly reason enough for group genesis.

JOHN DRIESSNACK -regular columnist -junior -biology major

Debate on coal and sustainable energy to be held Friday night T

his Friday, March 26, The Young Democrats at Virginia Tech are hosting the debate “Coal: The Question of Energy.” The debate will be between students from the mining engineering department and student members of Beyond Coal at Virginia Tech, along with industry representatives who support each cause. The debate will take place in Squires Colonial at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. This debate is intended to explore all of the options and different perspectives that clean energy and coal offer. Coal is a significant part of our lives, and while everyone wants clean and sustainable energy, there are conflicting opinions on how to achieve such an important goal. The debaters will discuss topics such as workers’ rights and safety, clean coal, mountaintop

removal, Tech’s coal power plant, and related economic and social topics. We have been hearing a lot from Beyond Coal and those who support its cause these past few months, and a lot of it may involve significant and expensive infrastructure changes to our campus. We all know there is a passionate opposing side, but it has not been quite as vocal as Beyond Coal. The issues discussed in this debate affect all of us, and this will be a unique opportunity to hear different perspectives in one forum on local and global issues, free from personal interests and politics. This is not a discussion necessarily on public policy, but a debate on the future of coal and clean energy. This debate is not an all-out showdown either. It is an intellectual exploration of a very complicated and dividing issue. There

will be questions accepted from the audience and a faculty member of the department of political science will moderate the debate. The debate is also a part of “Bright Ideas: A Weekend Investigating Coal and Virginia’s Energy Future,” which consists of several events intended to explore coal and clean energy. If you are interested in the debate or other events going on this weekend, check out the Facebook events and look around campus for flyers and posters.

GABI SELTZER -regular columnist -sophomore -philosophy, history major

What do YOU want changed on campus? send an e-mail to by April 1 with your idea on the biggest issue on campus. The best submissions will receive a written response from President Steger and other administrators.

Collegiate Times Editorial Staff Editor in Chief: Sara Mitchell Managing Editors: Peter Velz, Bethany Buchanan Production Manager: Thandiwe Ogbonna Public Editor: Justin Graves News Editors: Zach Crizer, Philipp Kotlaba News Reporters: Liana Bayne, Gordon Block News Staff Writers: Hope Miles, Katie Robidoux, Allison Sanders, Claire Sanderson, Priya Saxena Features Editor: Topher Forhecz Features Reporters: Ryan Arnold, Liz Norment Opinions Editor: Debra Houchins Sports Editors: Joe Crandley, Alex Jackson Sports Reporters: Thomas Emerick, Ed Lupien, Ray Nimmo, Garrett Ripa, Melanie Wadden Sports Staff Writers: Garrett Busic, Hattie Francis Copy Editors: Taylor Chakurda, Erin Corbey, Kelsey Heiter, Dishu Maheshwari Layout Designers: Kelly Harrigan, Josh Son, Sara Spangler Illustrators: Mina Noorbakhsh, Jamie Martyn Multimedia Editor: James Carty Online Director: Jamie Chung Collegiate Times Business Staff Business Manager: David Harries College Media Solutions Asst Ad Director: Kendall Kapetanakis Account Executives: Nik Bando, Brandon Collins, David Goerge, Wade Stephenson, Kelly Burleson Inside Sales Manager: Judi Glass Assistant Inside Sales Manager: Diane Revalski Assistant Account Executives: Maddie Abram, Katie Berkel, Kaelynn Kurtz Rachel Lombardo, Erin Shuba Creative Director: Sarah Ford Asst Production Manager: Chloe Skibba Creative Services Staff: Kara Noble, Jennifer Le, Laiken Jacobs Student Publications Photo Staff Director of Photography: Luke Mason Lab Manager: Mark Umansky Voice your opinion. Readers are encouraged to send letters to the Collegiate Times. 365 Squires Student Center Blacksburg, VA, 24061 Fax: (540) 231-9151 All letters to the editor must include a name and daytime phone number. Students must include year and major. Faculty and staff must include position and department. All other submissions must include city of residence, and if applicable, relationship to Virginia Tech (i.e., alumni, parent, etc.). All letters should be in MS Word (.doc) format, if possible. By submitting a letter, you hereby agree to not engage in online discussion through comments on the Collegiate Times Web site. Letters, commentaries and editorial cartoons do not reflect the views of the Collegiate Times. Editorials are written by the Collegiate Times editorial board, which is comprised of the opinions editor, editor-in-chief and the managing editors. Letters to the editor are submissions from Collegiate Times readers. We reserve the right to edit for any reason. Anonymous letters will not be printed. Have a news tip? Call or text 200-TIPS or e-mail Student Media Phone Numbers Collegiate Times Newsroom 231-9865 Editor-in-Chief 231-9867 College Media Solutions Advertising 961-9860 The Collegiate Times, a division of the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech, was established in 1903 by and for the students of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The Collegiate Times is published every Tuesday through Friday of the academic year except during exams and vacations. The Collegiate Times receives no funding from the university. The Collegiate Times can be found online at Except where noted, all photographs were taken by the Student Publications Photo Staff. To order a reprint of a photograph printed in the Collegiate Times, e-mail The Collegiate Times is located in 365 Squires Student Center, Blacksburg, VA, 24061. (540) 231-9865. Fax (540) 2319151. Subscription rates: $65 semester; $110 academic year. The first copy is free, any copy of the paper after that is 50 cents per issue. © Collegiate Times, 2010. All rights reserved. Material published in the Collegiate Times is the property thereof, and may not be reprinted without the express written consent of the Collegiate Times.

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features 7

editor: topher forhecz 540.231.9865

march 25, 2010


DIY: Learn how to pull a turtleneck out of its shell

A reason to run: 5KD Shamrock Event


Kappa Delta sorority will be hosting its 7th annual “5KD Shamrock Event” fundraiser this Saturday.

Step One.




Finished product 1.

product 2.

product 3.


fabric and ruffles caused me to save the cumbersome trend for days when I don’t have to compromise checking my blind spot for high fashion. Yet, just as I was letting go of my high collar ambitions, I stumbled across the work of New York based fashion designer Timo Weiland and encountered a vision free of a blind spot give-and-take: soft, detached, ruffled wreath-like collars far too sweet to strangle or obscure vision. Too broke for Timo, but too infatuated and inspired to wait for this love to fizzle, I tore through my wardrobe to create my own rendition. Armed with scissors, a sewing machine and a plain black turtleneck, I concocted this frock just in time for the spring breeze.

remove excess fabric from the back, as if to create a backless halter top. Cut remaining fabric in front into a bib shape. Step Two: Pin what should look like a backless, turtleneck bib in place. Step Three: Use remaining fabric to cut out shapes and strips to pin along the collar. Be creative, use loops, ruffles or anything else you can dream of. Step Four: Sew in place. Flaunt it. Your collar can be dressed up or dressed down. Layer it with a structured jacket, a loose tank, a plain white tee, a floral dress, your boyfriend’s slacks, your mom’s wedding dress or all of the above.

clectically close-minded and endlessly stubborn, my interests are black, white and otherwise erratic. If I’m not an impassioned-heart-fluttering, iridescently glowing, toothy-grinning-enthusiast, I’m a crossly-staringobviously-scowling, vomit-suppressing, eye-shifting detractor who shamelessly dooms potential love interests and budding fashion trends alike. Such is my relationship with collars. Choked by 13 years of stifling school uniforms, I distanced myself from the suffocating accessory without hesitation. And there has been little temptation, considering the general “blah” of the polo and tacky factor of affordable steam-punk and neo-Victorian frocks. Paired with evening gowns and lacy webs of fabric, high fashion designers like Lanvin, McQueen and Givenchy have repeatedly charmed the runway with dark, elegant takes on the noose’s delicate cousin. Yet, visions of my body flayed across the road amid a tangle of

HOW TO: Cost: $3 Time: One hour Materials: One turtleneck Step One: Start by cutting the arms off your turtleneck and proceed to

MARY ANNE CARTER -junior -communication major -favorite word: human

Planning for any event can become a taxing endeavor; senior communication major Anne Hague can sweat off the stress on race day for her sorority’s 7th Annual 5KD Shamrock Event. “The planning is all I’ve thought about for three months,” she said. “I hope it’s the biggest year yet.” She and the rest of the ladies of Kappa Delta anticipate the race on Saturday, March 27, which benefits Prevent Child Abuse America and its local affiliate, NRV Cares. For the second year in a row, the race will be held at the cross-country course on campus. Hague said the previous six Shamrock races have raised more than $30,000 for PCAA, with a significant portion going to NRV Cares. Her goal this year is $6,000, a figure she believes is possible after seeing initial registration numbers. Bev Walters, the executive director of NRV Cares, has been involved with the Shamrock event for the last four races. “It’s a wonderful fundraiser for us,” she said. Walters said the funding is important because NRV Cares is the local child abuse prevention and intervention agency for the New River Valley

area — a region Walters identified with high child abuse rates. “Child abuse in the state of Virginia is calculated by the number of abused or neglected children as identified by the court per 1,000 children in the population,” she said. “The state’s rate is 4.5 children per 1,000 in the population. Giles County is 23.5. Pulaski County is at 22. The average rate for the entire New River Valley is 13 … so every locality in the NRV is above the state rate.” Walters said that the money from the race provided to NRV Cares will go toward community education projects, “parenting young children” courses and appointing volunteers to the CASA program, which helps find safe homes for neglected children. Sophomore communication major Courtney Pence said that the sisters of Kappa Delta enjoy the experience of working with NRV Cares. “We do have a problem in this area so the money we raise affects people living here around Blacksburg, which is kind of cool,” she said. “We have really high expectations,” Mercer said. “I think we’re going to have really strong attendance this year because everyone understands what an important cause it is.” A new addition to the event — a

pasta party Friday night at Abella Cafe — will help boost fundraising totals. Planning committee co-chair Megan Mercer, a senior English major, said the idea came from a survey taken on ways to improve the philanthropy after last year’s race. “Something that came out of it was that so many Greek fundraisers for philanthropies are week-long events, but we only have one day,” she said. “Having another event offers another opportunity to make more money.” Kappa Delta has arranged for a DJ to play at the dinner and will be holding a silent auction. Tickets for the dinner are $5 with 25 percent of the proceeds going to NRV Cares. Pence will be one of the many Kappa Deltas busy setting up the race on Saturday morning. In addition to marking the course, manning the registration booths and passing out shirts, sisters will also be coaching Greek organization teams competing in the “Greek Gauntlet” for points. One of the ways teams gain points is to dress in theme. Hague said the costumes are one of the reasons for the enjoyable atmosphere. “Last year some people did ‘The Flintstones,’ running around in a car they made. It was really funny,” she said. “We’re having fun with this event; it’s the name of the game.” With goofy costumes and all, Mercer hopes this will be the biggest fundraising event of the year.

sports 8

editor: alex jackson 540.231.9865 COLLEGIATETIMES

march 25, 2010

Pitching, hot hitting help Hokies extinguish Flames, 10-0 RAY NIMMO sports reporter Behind stellar pitching and a high-powered offense, the Virginia Tech baseball team defeated Liberty University 10-0, Wednesday at English Field. With the win, Tech (14-8) avenged two straight losses to Liberty (13-6) dating back to 2008. “That’s a good team we beat convincingly,” said head coach Pete Hughes. “Anytime you win it’s good, anytime you beat a quality opponent it’s really good and anytime you do it going into a weekend series, it makes your team feel better.” The Hokies’ win ends a four-game losing streak, including last weekend’s series where they were swept at Clemson. Redshirt sophomore left fielder Buddy Sosnoskie paced the Hokies going 3-5 with a home run, two runs scored and a career-high four runs batted in. “I was just seeing it well,” Sosnoskie said, “trying to keep it simple and not really thinking mechaniNIELS GORAN BLUME/SPPS cally — just track it and whack Tech pitcher Manny Martir delivers a pitch against Liberty yesterday. it.”

That’s a good team to beat convincingly. Anytime you win it’s good, anytime you beat a quality opponent, it’s really good and anytime you do it going into a weekend series, it makes your team feel better. PETE HUGHES HEAD COACH

Sosnoskie has really come on this season. Last year he only hit .234 while this season he is crushing pitchers, hitting .455. “I’m just more relaxed, taking deep breaths, just going out there and trusting what I know how to do,” Sosnoskie said. “Last year I probably pressed a little and got hurt early on, but I can’t use that as an excuse.” “Buddy’s been real consistent lately,” Hughes said. “I was happy he hit some off-speed stuff that he struggled with last year, and I was very happy that he had a quality at-bat against a left-hander tonight, which he’s proven to do.”

Junior pitcher Manny Martir (1-1), who lost his first start last week against Rider University, gave Tech a strong outing, pitching seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. “I was getting all three pitches (fastball, changeup, slider) for strikes,” Martir said, “and that helps anytime you can do that. My defense was going right for me. I knew I had Tony Balisteri, Michael Seaborn, Austin Wates, Ronnie Shaban, everybody in the outfield, so I wasn’t scared to throw strikes and let them do their job.” Tech put a stop to a couple of the Flames’ strong attributes. In 15 of its last 18 contests, Liberty scored first, and it is 13-2 when that happens. The Hokies struck first in the third inning with a five-run barrage. Those five runs were important because the Flames only allow 4.5 runs a game. Liberty ended up using six pitchers against the explosive Tech offense that averages 8.3 runs a game and hits .338 as a team. Despite the fact that Tech was without one of its best players Wednesday

in redshirt junior shortstop Tim Smalling, who is still nursing a shoulder injury, the Hokies didn’t miss a beat. After a three-day layoff, the win also comes with a bit of momentum going into another Atlantic Coast Conference series — this one with Wake Forest. “I actually was talking to Steve (Domecus) before the game (about the layoff) — I felt refreshed and like the batteries were recharged,” Sosnoskie said. “I felt loose. It’s pretty good to have a three-day rest.” “We’re a little beat up,” Hughes said. “We got some arms down and Smalling’s down. I just thought it was good that it worked out that way. Hopefully we can carry this over and feel good going into Wake Forest.” The Demon Deacons (7-14 overall, 1-5 ACC) present an opportunity for Tech to make a move in the Coastal Division. The top three teams are all 5-1 and the bottom three teams, including the Hokies, are 2-4 in conference. The series against Wake begins Friday at English Field, with the first pitch at 5:30 p.m.

Hokies’ men’s tennis coach climbs coaching ladder to achieve ACC success GARRETT RIPA sports reporter The Virginia Tech men’s tennis program has reached a programhigh ranking of No. 16 this season, currently standing at 7-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play, despite playing an extremely challenging schedule. A lot of its recent success has to be credited to head coach Jim Thompson and the players he brings to THOMPSON Blacksburg. Thompson, who is in his 12th year as head coach, has roots in collegiate tennis that date back to his playing career at Davidson College, where he held the No. 1 position on the team from 1986-88. He won the Southern Conference Indoor Championships in 1987 and

went on to play professional tennis for a year and a half after graduation. Thompson also competed on an Association of Tennis Professionals satellite tour. “When I stopped playing, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I started coaching at a top academy in Florida,” Thompson said. While at Saddlebrook Academy, Thompson was able to play against and teach many top players. However, he did not see his future at an academy. “I knew I didn’t want to be in an academy all my life. It’s really hard to move up and get some responsibility,” he said. When an assistant coaching position opened up on the University of Alabama women’s tennis team, Thompson jumped at the opportunity. It would be the first of three collegiate coaching jobs Thompson would hold before heading to Tech.

Following Alabama, Thompson had a four-year stint as the women’s head coach at Anderson College in South Carolina. Anderson is a junior college that presented unique challenges and learning opportunities for Thompson. “You get to see how Division I schools are recruiting your kids, and you have to recruit kids, so you learn both sides,” Thompson said. “In terms of learning the business, that was a really good step along the way.” Thompson’s final stop before landing in Blacksburg was the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The athletics director at Chattanooga was a former Davidson baseball coach, which certainly didn’t hurt in his decision to hire Thompson. He moved up to became the head coach for both the women’s and men’s programs at Chattanooga, leading them to Southern Conference championships in 1997 and 1998, |respectively.


12th year, men’s tennis head coach

- 174-114 overall record - Led Hokies to NCAA Tournament five times, including last three seasons - Took Hokies to NCAA Sweet 16 for first time in school history in his first season - Member of the ITA Operating Committee since 2001 When he finally arrived at Tech, Thompson noticed the improvement in the program between his arrival and when he played against the Hokies as an athlete at Davidson. The Burrows and the Burleson families helped fund the tennis center, which opened in 1982, and consists of six indoor courts and 12 outdoor courts. Before the construction of the indoor courts, the Hokies had to travel to Roanoke to play indoors during the winter. “The athletics department had

put the funding into it to let them travel and play a national schedule,” Thompson said. “I inherited a really strong team when I got here ... we really had a great year, we made the Sweet 16.” However, through Thompson’s beginning years, he did have trouble attracting top teams to come to Blacksburg. At the time, Tech was a member the Atlantic 10 conference. “You always had to travel to play good teams at their home, making it harder to climb the rankings,” Thompson said. After leaving the Atlantic 10 and having a short membership in the Big East, the Hokies joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. Today, top teams come to Blacksburg through their conference schedules, and the Hokies’ national reputation is growing. “Not even in my wildest imagination would I have dreamed we would have gone into the ACC. That’s one of the best conferences for tennis and our whole athletic department,” Thompson said. Now Thompson has to recruit against schools, like the nationally ranked No. 1 University of Virginia. Thompson believes in getting kids to

experience the campus for themselves as opposed to giving a cliché recruiting pitch. “A certain kid fits in better at Virginia Tech. They’re looking for different things. It’s more about getting them here on campus,” he said. “Everybody likes Blacksburg.” Senior Pedro Graber met Thompson in Germany in 2006 and came here partially because of Tech’s engineering program, but praises Thompson as “a great team coach ... one of the best coaches I have ever met.” Assistant coach Christophe Bonadona learned a lot about communicating with players and running practice during the past year he has spent under Thompson. “He’s a great motivator. He has a great connection with the players and the team,” Bonadona said. As Thompson continues to guide the Hokies to the top of collegiate tennis, his abilities to communicate well with players, motivate them and recruit them will certainly come in handy. He wants to see the program ascend into the top 10, but admits it’s a tough challenge. “It gets harder and harder toward the top.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010 Print Edition  

Thursday, March 25, 2010 Print Edition of The Collegiate Times