Sunday at The Diamond, the Richmond Flying Squirrels honored late VCU Baseball Coach Paul Keyes in a pregame ceremony. The Squirrels also wore special black and gold jerseys and patches with Keyes’ jersey number, five. Appropriately, on May 5 (5/5), the Squirrels won 5-1.
May 2, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Although he grew up as something of a track and field junkie, Ethan Tussing never had much use for throwing events. Not that they had much use for him, either. Usually the only reason you’d find a 5-foot-10, 140-pound guy like Tussing around the shot put pit is if he went out for a five-mile run and got lost.
Sometimes, back when he was an intern on the track and field staff at the University of Florida, the throws coach would ask him to film the shot put or the discus. But Tussing would usually get bored, miss a bunch of attempts and get an earful from the coach.
He saw himself as a sprints coach one day or as the head coach of a high school track team. What he did not expect, was to be leading arguably the best crop of throwers in VCU history to the Atlantic 10 Conference meet this weekend.
What’s that saying? Life is what happens when you get busy making other plans.
When he was five years old, Ethan Tussing watched the Olympics with his dad, Tony, a respected high school track coach and official. Ethan decided he wanted to be like Carl Lewis.
“Then I got to high school and found out I was a terrible sprinter,” The 30-year-old Deland, Fla. native said.
May 2, 2013
From 2009-2012, Seth Cutler-Voltz was a rock for VCU’s pitching staff, throwing 338 1/3 innings in 73 appearances. He threw at least 84 innings in each of his final three years, including 2010, when he finished 8-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 119 1/3 innings. But this year, Cutler-Voltz is seeing baseball from a different perspective. In this piece, Scott Wyant tells us about Cutler-Voltz’s transition to coaching.
May 2, 2013
Check out Boris Kodjoe taking some time to congratulate VCU Tennis Coach Paul Kostin on his 1,000th win. And how about that VCU shirt! As you may know by now, Kodjoe played tennis at VCU for Kostin in the 90s. Even as his acting and modeling career has taken off, he’s always been good to VCU. Dude is a class act.
We do need to have a quick conversation with Boris about his videography skills. Don’t get me wrong, the lighting was good, the VCU polo was great and the tennis court backdrop is a nice touch, but there is the cardinal sin of VVS to address. You know VVS:
Congrats if you made it this far. For your effort, here’s your Boris Kodjoe/VCU eye candy.
May 1, 2013
I met Luanne Norvell last year, just before the start of basketball season. Her daughter, Susan Brooks had sent an email, proudly gushing about her mother fighting cancer without missing a beat of VCU fandom. She had surgery in the morning and tailgated at the CAA Tournament in the afternoon. She baked brownies for the folks at Massey Cancer Center. She wore black and gold wigs. Brooks called her mother an inspiration.
Norvell worked in the VCU School of Dentistry and was as big a VCU fan as I’ve met. The impression I got after meeting her was that she loved three things: God, her family and VCU Basketball. She spent the first 15 minutes of our meeting asking about my son. She also told me about her time as a chaperone for the Varina High School band, and how she once caught a mischievous drum major named Ryan Kopacsi sneaking out of his hotel room. I eventually had to steer the conversation back to her for fear that I would run out of time before I had to leave.
Luanne was a delight. Unfailingly positive, greatful and optimistic, she talked about her breast cancer in the past tense. Unfortunately, a couple of days after the start of basketball season, she emailed me to thank me for the feature I’d written on her for the men’s basketball program and to let me know they’d found spots on her lungs.
We maintained an occasional email correspondence throughout the year as she battled the cancer, pneumonia, a bacterial infection. Even as she wrote about the awful stuff, she remained upbeat. In one of our last exchanges, she asked me if there was a way to secure a Briante Weber autograph for a little boy at her sister’s school who “thinks he’s the best basketball player alive.”
Luanne Norvell passed away on April 29 after fighting the good fight for the better part of the last two years.
In Luanne’s office, there was a decorative piece, a plaque, a framed photo, I don’t exactly remember, but it contained a quote often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.
She talked about how much that quote meant to her, how it inspired her. She kept chasing that ideal, to make other people’s lives happier, better. In turn, she inspired others. She inspired me. Someday, her unyielding spirit will help someone else beat cancer. Of this, I am convinced. Maybe she’ll save my life too. While Luanne has passed on, I hope she knows how successful she really was.
Below is my original feature on Luanne Norvell. I never ran it online after she learned the cancer spread. But I read it this morning for the first time since November. I thought it would be upsetting, but instead, it made me smile. I hope it captures even a sliver of her spirit, her joy, her hope for the future and her love of others (and VCU hoops, of course). I hope she inspires you too.
CANCER HASN’T SLOWED THIS RAMS FAN
By Chris Kowalczyk
It was a Thursday night, and Luanne Novell’s hair was falling out. The chemotherapy to treat the cancer in her right breast was killing her hair cells. Finally, she’d had enough. Norvell stopped cooking dinner and told her husband, Danny, she’d be right back.
Norvell drove to a local salon and asked to have her head shaved. The beautician flipped on the clippers and put them to Norvell’s scalp, but the 57-year old Varina resident stopped her.
“Do you think you could shave ‘VCU’ in the back of it?” Norvell asked.
April 29, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Outside Paul Kostin’s office is a large display case that is home to more than two decades of VCU Tennis trophies – the ones that would fit, anyway. A couple of years ago, with no more room left in the display case or in Kostin’s office, new trophies started piling up on a table behind the receptionists’ desk.
It doesn’t appear as if this trophy-space issue will rectify itself anytime soon.
On Sunday, Kostin brought home another souvenir from Cincinnati, where the Rams won their first Atlantic 10 Conference Men’s Tennis Championship 4-3 over George Washington. The victory was the 1,000th of Kostin’s 32-year coaching career, a milestone reached previously by just three other Division I coaches.
“I feel lucky and very fortunate because I had so many good athletes, good tennis players, play for me, both men and women,” Kostin said. “Also, I’ve been having some good assistant coaches helping me. In this business and in any business, you don’t do things alone.”
While he hasn’t done it alone, Kostin, 1,000-316 overall at VCU and Arkansas-Little Rock, certainly has done it his way.
A native of Stockholm, Sweden, the 59-year-old Kostin is tough without being taxing. He cares deeply about his players, but he’s careful not to coddle them. He’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind, but he’s also usually the first person in line to provide a former player with a glowing reference.
April 29, 2013
With a thrilling 4-3 win Sunday over George Washington, the VCU Men’s Tennis team captured its first A-10 Championship. In the process, longtime Rams’ Head Coach Paul Kostin picked up his 1,000th career victory. He’s now led the Rams to conference championships in the Metro, CAA and A-10. Both the VCU Men’s and Women’s teams are headed to the NCAA Tournament.
April 26, 2013
Look, I don’t care if the Bucks are down 3-0 or 30-0 in their series with the Heat. This play says the future is bright in Milwaukee. Guys who are 6-foot-11 shouldn’t be able to do this. Larry Sanders is averaging 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 67 percent from the field against the Heat in this first round playoff series.
April 25, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Ryan Farrar needed some time to think. His professional baseball dream was dangling in front of him like a carrot on a string, and he had a potentially life-changing decision to make. He walked out of his parents’ kitchen and onto the front porch and buried his head in his hands.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had called in 11th round of last year’s amateur draft and made the VCU left-handed pitcher an offer. It wasn’t run-out-and-get-a-Rolls money. It wasn’t even what Farrar had mentally set as his minimum requirement, but it was a chance to play baseball for a living. On the other hand, Farrar still had one year of eligibility remaining, another year of college, another year to polish his skills.
A lot of players would spring out of their cleats for a shot at pro ball. But Farrar was waging an inner war.
“It was awful,” he says. “I just sat on my front porch by myself. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and I was pulling my hair out of my head and thinking, ‘How can I turn down this kind of money to go play baseball?’”
Farrar looked his boyhood dream in the eyes and said, “No thanks.”
He told the Pirates it was about the money, but Farrar says that was a convenient excuse, his “out pitch”, if you will.