Thursday, March 30, 2006

David Teel Interview

Conducted this interview for an assignment in one of my classes (Media Writing) with one of the best writers from around my hometown (Newport News), David Teel, who serves as a prime contributor in covering Hokie sports. Check it out:

Interview with David Teel
Reporter, Daily Press
by Andrew Kinney

Considered to be one of the most distinguished writers in the commonwealth, David Teel of the Newport News-based newspaper, the Daily Press, has many connections to the Virginia Tech community. Through his countless articles regarding Hokie athletics, Teel has been an influential outlet in promoting Virginia Tech sports on a national level.

Teel, a communication major with a minor in business administration and sociology, graduated with highest honors from James Madison University in 1981. Three years later he would go on to join the writing staff of the Daily Press, which he has remained a part of ever since.

Planet Blacksburg recently had the chance to interview Teel, who despite being busy writing about the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, was able to answer several questions via e-mail. The following are a selection of questions and answers from the online interview, which was conducted on March 17, 2006.

Q: List your official title and talk about what it is that keeps you doing the same work.
Teel: I am a senior columnist at the Daily Press and couldn't imagine a better gig. If folks around town or around the country are talking about it, chances are I get to write about it. I love to write and love sports. 'Nuf said.

Q: Talk about how you got your start in sports journalism, and which papers you worked for.
Teel: My sports journalism career began at age 9 when my dad, tired of me watching sports on television all the time, handed me a paper and pencil and said, 'Here, write about what you see.' I still have some of those scribbles.

I later worked on the high school and college papers, interned at the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record while in college and also dabbled in radio at James Madison University's station. From there I took a job as a one-man sports operation at the Maryland Coast Press, a defunct twice-weekly in Ocean City, Md.

I stayed there nine months before heading to the Lynchburg News and Daily Advance to cover high schools. After 11 months in Falwell Country, I went to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Times to cover high schools and colleges. Fifteen months later it was off to the Daily Press, where I've been since April 1984.

Q: What initially made you want to write for the Daily Press? What was enticing about writing in the Newport News area?
Teel: Newport News was attractive for several reasons: It was closer to Baltimore (where I spent a majority of life) than Fayetteville. I knew the sports editor, Skip Miller, and my girlfriend was taking a job there as well. Ah, the things we do for love (she wisely ditched me soon thereafter).

Q: Do you plan on someday becoming editor of the Daily Press?
Teel: In moments of weakness and/or intoxication I ponder moving into management. But I'd hate the administration, meetings, politics and incompetence. I'm a writer at heart and would be miserable chained to the office.

Q: Which aspects of your job do you enjoy? Which do you dislike?
Teel: The best parts of the gig are meeting compelling people, watching them perform and telling their stories. For example, Allen Iverson, J.J. Redick, Michael Vick, Curtis Strange, Boo Williams and Annika Sorenstam to name just a few. Not only that, as a columnist I'm expected to voice opinions.

The hard parts are the obscene hours and the grueling travel. There's nothing like navigating I-81 or Route 58 at 3 a.m., after three Diet Cokes and a Power Bar.

Q: Talk about your typical routine in the writing process of one of your articles.
Teel: I really have no writing routine. I write from the office, home, hotels, stadiums, airports, and have even written from hospital bedsides. The one constant is preparation. Researching your topic before hitting the keyboard is non-negotiable.

Q: Do you plan on someday moving to another paper?
Teel: I've turned down many jobs for various reasons, personal and professional. The good Lord willing, I won't be moving any time soon, because I just moved my mother from Baltimore to a nursing home here. I get to see her every day I'm in town, which is very cool.

Q: What are your thoughts on winning this year's award for being the best sports writer in all of Virginia presented by the National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association?
Teel: It's flattering because your peers vote. But while winning awards and contests strokes the ego and maybe pries a penny or two from the boss come raise time, they are subjective and best viewed with a jaded eye.

Q: With having to contribute several articles a week, are you ever stressed in making your deadlines?
Teel: Well, I write at least three columns a week but also contribute bylined profiles, news stories and game accounts. Last night's Duke game ended at 12:11 a.m. The deadline was 12:15 a.m. You tell me if that's a stressful deadline.

Q: With having written so much, do you have any favoritism towards covering certain events? What do you look forward to writing about the most?
Teel: I prefer college sports to professional, college basketball in particular. There's nothing like March.

Q: What kind of advice do you offer to young aspiring sportswriters and reporters out there trying to be successful?
Teel: Like any good journalist, a good sportswriter needs to work his ass off. Cultivate sources, educate yourself, be visible, read other newspapers, and be curious about the world around you. That would go to include such subjects as politics, music, movies, current events, and art, not just sports.

Hokie Baseball Recap: Virginia Tech 9, Richmond 6

Rain delay resurgance leads to late-inning runs, Hokie victory
March 29th, 2006
by Charles R. Barrineau, Senior Staff Writer

The Virginia Tech baseball team squashed the University of Richmond Spiders 9-6 Tuesday evening, ending its three-game losing streak.

"We definitely needed (the win)," said redshirt junior reliever Adam Redd, who picked up the win for the Hokies. "We definitely needed a 'W' today."

It was a critical win for the Hammerin' Hokies coming off a sweep at the hands of Boston College and heading into at three-game conference road series at Wake Forest University beginning Friday.

"I think it's got to help us a lot," said Virginia Tech head coach Chuck Hartman. "Hopefully it's going to give us a little confidence. Another loss, we're already doubting ourselves a little bit, and we'd probably starting doubting ourselves even more. Hopefully a comeback win like this will pick our morale up a little bit."

Once again, the Hokies found themselves down big early on, 5-1. That's what the scoreboard read heading into a 71-minute weather delay in the bottom-half of the sixth inning.

The Hokies went into the weather delay playing like the team that got swept by B.C., but came out of it playing like the team that beat then No.1 Florida State University.

"I think momentum in a game, sometimes, is big. I thought this probably helped us," Hartman said. "I think whoever has the momentum at the time -- that's the one it hurts."

Tech's play picked up somewhat in its half of the sixth when catcher Matt Foley used good eyes to draw a bases loaded walk from Richmond pitcher Josh Horn.

It was evident that the lightning that contributed to delaying the game must have struck the Hokies' bats when Sheldon Adams hit a three-run home run to tie the game. It was his second three-run homer in as many games.

"I was happy this one ended up leading to a win today--it made it a little more worthwhile," Adams said. "Hitting's muscle and memory and it was just one of those where it was in the right spot."

During the eighth, Tech's play continued to be electric, with a two-out rally that yielded four runs.

Third baseman Bryan Thomas began the rally with his two-run single to put the Hokies ahead for good 7-6.

"That was the booster," Hartman said. "That was the shot that lifted us up ... his base hit put us ahead."

The rally continued as second baseman Warren Schaeffer scored on a throwing error and Thomas came home on a wild pitch to put the Hokies up 9-6.

Redd earned his third win in his last four relief appearances, but downplayed attributing his pitching's influence on recording victories.

"It's more the run support," Redd said. "I get in there (and) usually we're down maybe two or three runs and then come back. I try and keep (us) in the game."

Redd allowed no runs in two innings.

"I just think he's pitching well," Hartman said. "He's throwing strikes, and he's getting ground balls and he's striking some people out."

The Hammerin' Hokies return to the Diamond at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C. where they will take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Hokie Baseball Recap: Boston College Sweeps VT

Gonna do the baseball thing too on this site, so read:

Visiting Boston College sweeps Hokies
March 27th, 2006
by Charles R. Barrineau, Senior Staff Writer

The Hammerin' Hokies dug themselves into a deep hole in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings this weekend, getting swept by the visiting Boston College Eagles in three winnable games.

"It was a tough weekend," said Virginia Tech head coach Chuck Hartman. "You could win all three or you could lose all three. Unfortunately it didn't even divvy up. It was a very tough weekend for our baseball team."

This series was critical for the Hokies because only the league's top eight teams make the ACC Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. The top two teams in each division qualify, as do the next four teams overall.

"I thought this was very critical," Hartman said. "I thought Boston College would be one of those teams that we'd need to get at least two out of three, and maybe get a sweep. (It) turned out the other way; probably three of the toughest losses our program's had to suffer. We got beat in the ninth, we got beat in the thirteenth and we got beat in the tenth."

Sunday saw the Hokies jump out to a 2-0 lead before the Eagles tied the Hokies in the top of the fourth, eventually taking a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Sophomore right fielder Jose Cueto had a chance to give the Hokies the lead in the bottom of the inning, but struck out swinging, leaving the bases loaded.

Those base runners accounted for three of the 10 left on base for the day. Overall, Tech left 32 runners stranded over the weekend.

"It's been bugging me all along," Hartman said. "When we played Miami down there we left 33 on in three games. I can't hit for them."

In the top half of the seventh, the Eagles had runners on second and third with no outs and were able to get both home due to sloppy defense and a series of errors by the Hokies.

"It's tougher to play when it's cold," Hartman said. "You probably see more mistakes when (there's) not ideal conditions ... I was disappointed we threw the ball around in that inning."

Boston College also drove in another run later in the inning to extend its lead to 6-2.

Tech was down, but not out. The Hokies had the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth with no outs when Matt Foley hit a sacrifice fly to center, cutting the Boston College lead to three.

Sheldon Adams was next up and came through in the clutch. The senior pinch-hitter hit a three-run home run with two outs, tying the game 6-6 at the end of eight.

"I was just trying to look for something I could drive with two outs, hopefully to get them in," Adams said. "It was just right down the middle (and) I happened to get a good swing on it."

Eagle second baseman Ryan Hutchinson hit a solo shot in the top of the ninth to put BC on top 7-6.

In the bottom of the ninth the Hokies were able to get junior second baseman Warren Schaeffer into scoring position with one out. With two outs, freshman center fielder Sean Ryan doubled and drove Schaeffer home to tie the game at seven.

BC once again came alive in the tenth as a two-run home run by Ryan Akel put the Eagles ahead 9-7.

The Hokies had hope in their half of the tenth, with runners on first and second with two outs. However, Schaeffer was unable to drive them home as he struck out to end the game.

"(Two) extra-inning games (and) one nine-inning game," Schaeffer said. "That"s horrible, especially expecting to sweep them coming into the weekend. It's just a big blow."

The Hokies trailed the Eagles 6-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning Friday, but a five-run eighth behind a grand slam by Schaeffer tied the game at six.

The Eagles would outscore the Hokies in the ninth to win the game 8-7.

Saturday's contest saw Tech jump out to a 4-0 lead before a four-run Eagle ninth inning sent the game into extra innings.

In the top of the 13th, the Eagles scored two runs, one unearned, and held the Hokies scoreless to gain their second win in as many days.

The Hammerin' Hokies look to end their three-game skid this afternoon as they host the University of Richmond Spiders at English Field. First pitch is at 3 p.m.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hokie Football: 2006 Recruit #5 - Matt Wright

Today the Collegiate Times continued their weekly series focusing on next year's football recruits, with today's feature telling the story of Phoebus High School standout Matt Wright, who comes to Tech as an addition to the Hokies' linebacker corps.

Overall, Matt was a joy to work with and was nothing but a class act. I truly see this young man as a vital addition to Tech's dwindling defensive unit, and I wish him the best of luck in the years to come. With that being said though, all you Hokie fans and haters out there alike, Tech's got another 757 prospect comin' to the 'Burg, so watch out now.

2006 Hokie Recruit: Matt Wright
By Andrew Kinney
Senior Staff Writer
March 24, 2006

Perhaps no other athletic program at Virginia Tech exemplifies the concept that a good defense is a good offense better than the men's football team, whose defensive unit has earned its reputation for shutting down its opposition and turning its opponents' mistakes into points on the scoreboard.

Last year was no exception for head coach Frank Beamer and his team, as the Hokie defense finished ranked second in the nation, giving the team much success throughout the majority of the year.

Saying goodbye, however, to several seniors who served as key defensive contributors has been no easy task to cope with for Virginia Tech, but in looking at next season, the coaching staff seems to have addressed the key issue of personnel losses on the defensive side of the ball. Ten fresh, new faces for Virginia Tech's defense will come to play in the fall, one of whom will be standout linebacker Matt Wright.

Wright, ranked as the No. 2 linebacker in the state of Virginia by, will be arriving to Blacksburg in the fall as a graduate of Phoebus High School, located in Hampton of Virginia's Tidewater area.

To Hokie fans, this area should sound extremely familiar, as it served as the same talent base for ex-Hokie quarterbacks Marcus and Michael Vick, as well as Hokie standouts Jimmy Williams, Nathaniel and Xavier Adibi, Chris Ellis and Wright's brother, D.J. Parker.

"The Tidewater area has been such a big talent base for recruiting," Wright said. "At Landstown you had (Percy) Harvin, and if you look at Hampton just down the road, with (Todd) Nolen, who's coming up there next year, the area just has a lot of great talent."

Much of the Hokies' successful recruiting in the Tidewater region can be accredited to Virginia Tech's Jim Cavanaugh, who in addition to his title as the Hokies' strong safety and outside linebacker coach, served as the man responsible for recruiting Wright.

"I first started getting recruited when I was in eighth grade, and when I met coach Cavanaugh, he gave me a very good first impression," Wright said. "He had a good sense of humor, but was very straightforward. I found him to be an honest person, and I respected him for being a good person on and off the field. I knew he was somebody that you could trust. A lot of times when it comes to recruiting coaches, you can't really trust them because they just tell you a lot of things just to get you to go to their school, but I knew coach Cavanaugh wasn't going to do that to me."

Cavanaugh, who will most likely be coaching Wright in the fall, spoke of several attractive qualities regarding Wright when reflecting on the high school senior's recruitment.

"I really liked his combination of size and speed and his ability to make tackles," Cavanaugh said. "To find a kid of his size who is that active and has such an ability to make plays, really is no easy feat. I think he will fit really well into our defense. With Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi, we have two very good linebackers, and we are looking for young backups so when those two graduate, somebody will be able to fill in and be ready to go."

In mentioning Adibi, Wright attributed the redshirt-sophomore linebacker to being a form of inspiration while playing at the high school level. Along with the two playing the same position, the duo comes from the same area having both attended Phoebus High.

"I look up to Xavier," Wright said. "I grew up with him. He was kind of a big brother to me; he was always direct and had a good work ethic on the field. He is a good character to follow, and it's going to be fortunate for us to play on the same team next year, hopefully he'll be able to help me out."

Standing at a size of 6'2" and 215 pounds, perhaps the only thing more impressive than Wright's imposing stature are his football credentials. After starting all four years at Phoebus under head coach William Dee, Wright was named the Peninsula District Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to being elected to Virginia's first-team AAA all-state by the Associated Press as a linebacker.

Dee, when asked about his defensive standout, had only good words to say in describing the talent and skills belonging to the future Hokie.

"Matt's athletic, and he's got speed, which is what it's all about in Tech's scheme," Dee said. "He has a great work ethic, and he knows what it takes to develop and work hard. He's a good kid, and coming from a good family, he should have a lot of good support up there. I think he will fit in fine."

As a junior, the Phoebus standout was named all-district, all-metro, first-team all-region and second-team all-state after catching 25 passes for 310 yards and six touchdowns, along with making 121 tackles, 10 sacks and three interceptions. With those types of numbers, one might expect such an athlete to be quite arrogant, yet Wright makes it a point to be humble.

"I don't like to toot my own horn, but as far as on the field, I bring leadership, with lots of intensity because I'm a hard worker," Wright said. "I stay humble, and when I'm out there, I'm going to give it my all, all the time. I'm out there to make plays, and I'm just going to try to make this team more successful."

Along with being offered a scholarship to Virginia Tech, Wright received scholarship offers from a long list of other universities, including schools such as Marshall, Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and in-state rival Virginia. Following his commitment and letter of intent to Tech on Jan. 22, Wright credited numerous aspects about Virginia Tech to influencing his decision.

"Once I got to Blacksburg, I just loved the atmosphere and the vibe I got once I was on campus," Wright said. "I did my research on the other schools, and they just didn't have the adequate resources for me. Tech was just the best school for me. It had everything - coming from the football, academic, and environmental standpoints. Plus in addition to that, I got family up there. All the other schools up there were very successful schools, but it all boiled down to the resources Virginia Tech had."

Family appeared to be a key contributor in influencing Wright's decision, as his older brother, sophomore D.J. Parker, currently attends Virginia Tech and serves as a starter in the team's secondary.

"Playing with D.J. did have a big part to do with (my decision)," Wright said. "We played in high school together for two years. I got to share that experience and I'm proud of that because in youth leagues, we never got to play together on the same team, so this experience should be a great thing. I'll have a chance to play with my brother again, and this is good because we work well together on the same team. He'll be able to help me because he already knows the ropes. He's somebody that if I need anything or need any help on or off the football field, I can ask him. He'll be there for me."

It is safe to say that Parker will be one of the many supporters in the fall for Wright, as the future freshman arrives at a place he says he has visited several times before and considers to be "a home away from home."

As graduation, summer workouts and the eventual fall semester approach for Wright, the Phoebus senior looks forward to arriving in Blacksburg and what will undoubtedly serve as a beginning of a fresh new start.

"I've been on campus so many times, it seems like I already go there," Wright said. "I'm very excited to be coming to Virginia Tech. I look at it as a blessing. Everybody knows about the school's history, it's so deep. For me to be able to be a part of this prestigious program is saying something. I just want to come up there and take things to the next level and help out early."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hokie Football: 2006 Recruit #4 - Daryl Robertson

Blacksburg must prepare for second coming of Daryl
March 16th, 2006
by Alexis Hatfield, Staff Writer

This is part four of the Collegiate Times' series looking at some of the top football recruits for 2006.

"Da-ryl ... Da-ryl ... Da-ryl!"

This is what the Hokie Nation will be chanting in seasons to come, but this time it won't be for Mr. Tapp.

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Blacksburg, Mr. Daryl Robertson.

Standing 6'3" and weighing 285 pounds, this new Daryl will be lining up at defensive tackle for the orange and maroon.

Nearly all of the Hokie faithful remember when Tapp, the recently-graduated defensive end, would burst around the corner to make appearances on highlight tapes. Although Tapp plays a different position than Robertson, Robertson tends to emulate his game style with the same tenacity, speed and heart.

With Robertson's 5.1 40-yard dash time, he is quick on his feet, which will help him get to the quarterback faster.

"I guess my best attribute as a player is that I'm pretty fast off the ball," Robertson told, a recruiting website. "Quickness continues to be the area I’m always working on the most."

Great athletes and coaches come in a packaged deal. Robertson's career would be impossible without the proper guidance of the Liberty High School coaching staff led by Robertson’s former head coach Christopher Watts.

Robertson is characterized by his former coach as a good leader and noted for being "coachable." Watts enforces in all of his players the importance of how football can play an effective role in one's future.

"I teach them not to just be good football players, but good people," Watts said.

He also instills other components of hard work-ethic skills, which have traveled with Robertson.

"I teach them good work ethics by getting things done in the weight room, it is hard to make it out there, so things have to get done now," Watts said.

With Watts’ guidance, Daryl ended his senior season with a total of 75 tackles, seven sacks and one blocked punt. Hokie offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring was the man in charge of noticing Daryl’s talent and signing him on July 11, 2005. Stinespring’s goal was to recruit the best talent that could easily fit in with Virginia Tech’s style of play.

"He had a lot of size, and he was able to move well. He had a good mixture of size and athletic ability," Stinespring said. "We want to see if he can physically go against a 22 year-old senior."

Other Division-I schools such as University of Maryland and Wake Forest University tried to get their hands on Robertson, but Tech beat them to the punch. Virginia Tech was Daryl’s ideal choice because of proximity.

"I chose Virginia Tech because it was close for my family and I could invite my friends to watch me play," Robertson said.

Robertson’s quickness, strength and power have helped him to be ranked amongst the best high school seniors in the nation. As a result, in his senior season, his most memorable personal experience was when he blocked a punt and picked it up to run for yardage.

"That was the first time I have ever ran with the ball," Robertson said.

He also took the role as team captain his senior year because he knew it was his responsibility to take Liberty as far as it could go — and is characterized by his former coach as being a laid-back individual.

"He is always smiling, very approachable, easy to talk to and a polite guy," Watts said. "Daryl is a very likable guy, and he comes from a good family."

Robertson’s parents, George and LyVern Robertson, are very proud of their son’s commitment and his future at Virginia Tech. They emphasize his personal modesty, and how he doesn’t like to stand out amongst the crowd, but to bring others up with him.

"He is still himself. Daryl doesn’t put himself above and we are very proud of him. He is still the same," LyVern Robertson said.

Both parents have collectively instilled the values of keeping true to himself and always remembering where he comes from. Daryl actively participates in his church as an usher for the Junior Usher Board.

"(We told him) Put God first, academics next, and everything will fall in place," LyVern Robertson said.

Robertson’s family background in sports runs deep. He continues in the family legacy of football behind his cousin, former University of Virginia defensive back, Jerton Evans.

The family sports tradition is not just limited to the male side of the family. His mother played college basketball for Saint Paul University. Considering she was a student-athlete in college, she has emphasized that while Daryl is in school he needs to focus on his academics.

"Hitting the books first, and that is what keeps you there," LyVern Robertson said. "We look highly at Tech for mandatory study hall and advisors; he needs that mentor not from just the coaches."

As Daryl’s parents have to let him go from under the wing, Daryl knows he has the support from his family, especially his parents.

"We stayed in the background, but we are there for the support," the Robertsons said.

Robertson’s charm and humble charisma has helped him be successful on and off the field, but sometimes was a concern for Watts.

"Sometimes he is too nice, which was a problem for him on the field, but he has tried to be more aggressive," Watts said.

When asked how it will feel if he was given the opportunity to take the field as a freshman, Robertson replied cautiously.

"I will definitely be nervous, but after the first hit, I will be all right," Robertson said.

Welcome to Blacksburg, Daryl.

Hokie Nation is waiting for you.