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Beamer: “We’re Not Going To Take It”

by Roland Lazenby
Planet Blacksburg Faculty Adviser
April 18, 2007

Frank Beamer was in his office overlooking Lane Stadium Monday morning when, like many other members of the community, he first got word about the shootings at West Ambler-Johnston.

And like many others, he faced a day of worsening news reports, most of them provided by his longtime administrative assistant John Ballein, who was following the story on television.

Beamer had a staff meeting at 11, and while Virginia Tech’s head coach was gathered with his staff, Ballein ducked in to tell them that the violence had spread, that several more people had been shot.

Then the reports reached that bizarre level. As many as 20, then 30 victims?

That couldn’t happen. Not in Frank Beamer’s Blacksburg.

“I grew up right down the road from here (in Carroll County),” he said Wednesday. “I went to school here. I’ve been here 20 years as a coach.”

This has long been his town, and Beamer made it known in an interview with Wednesday afternoon, that he’s not about to cede it to any killer.

“We can’t let one person destroy what goes on here every day, the caring, the thoughtfulness. We can’t let one person destroy that. Now we’re in this together,” he said, throwing his arms wide in one of his trademark gestures.

“We’ve got to make this place tighter, closer, more respectful. Better.”

The magnitude of Monday’s killings quickly eclipsed things as mundane as football. Yet it wasn’t lost on Beamer that the crowd turned to the familiar chant “Let’s Go Hokies” during emotional memorial services on campus Tuesday.

“I think there’s a spirit here,” he said. “This guy (the killer) certainly disgraced our school and hurt some innocent, brilliant, smart, great people, people who didn’t deserve to die.

“For people to think of Virginia Tech and think of that, I’m not going to take it. We’re not going to take it.”

The coach seized on the words and spirit expressed by English professor and poet Nikki Giovanni in closing the memorial service at Cassell Coliseum.

The hardest part for the coach was the ushering in of victims’ families for that service. “When those families walked in, that just broke your heart,” he said. “I think what Nikki Giovanni said was so appropriate. We’ve been hurt, but we’re not going to take this. We’re going to come back and live every day at Virginia Tech the way that we do.” He expressed confidence that his players will take their part in leading that community spirit.

The first step in that was his decision to cancel the spring game, which he pointed out was “only practice.”

“I just didn’t feel like us practicing was what needed to take place. Our guys are hurting too.”

The sad, strange turn of events didn’t allow time for Beamer to meet with his players this week, he said. “Every (assistant) coach has been in touch with his players to make sure they’re okay. We’ll get together as a group next Monday. We’ve got to be the leaders of this, to help this community heal.”

Comments (10)

Excellent article Roland, great quotes.

Andrew Mager | April 18, 2007 9:51 PM

I've heard mixed opinions on weather the spring game should or shouldn't be held. I understand that it would be therapeutic for many, many people to be able to sit in the stands and watch the team.

I hope from reading this that people don't lose sight of the fact that there are 100+ students on that roster and dozens of assistants and staffers. All of them were affected by this, some incredibly deeply.

The spring game would have been the biggest thing on campus this month had this tragedy not occurred. Tack on the media frenzy from this week and the attention level increases exponentially. To require them or any other sports team to play under those conditions would be a lot to ask.

I commend the other teams that do plan on continuing their seasons and I will support them passionately. Perhaps those who planned on coming to the football game will come out for softball, baseball or lacrosse instead. Besides, the spring game is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage where fans can see their guys perform and speculate on who the starting QB will end up being. Right now, there are more important things to focus on.

Trust me, on Sept. 1, Lane Stadium’s very foundation will shake to the tune of “Enter Sandman” and 66,233 Hokies who could care less that there was no spring football game.

Neal | April 19, 2007 12:47 AM

I respect Coach Beamer's decision. All of this is so overwhelming. Neal is right, no one will remember there was no spring game come Sept. 1.

Ed | April 19, 2007 9:24 AM

As a fan of University of Louisville football I had the privilege to meet many of the great VT fans when Louisville played VT in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville a couple of years ago.

I believe I can speak for all of the fans here at U of L that we share in your sorrow over the recent tragedy at VT and that you will be in our thoughts and prayers.

University of Louisville Fan | April 19, 2007 10:43 AM

As a 2-time alum of the greatest university I will ever know, being 1200 miles away is the worst feeling in the world.

I'm totally on board with Frank, we have to be who we are. That place has a charm and a love that makes it hard to leave, and one that people should always admire.

Every person I've spoken to here at LSU is in awe of what they've seen from the Virginia Tech community.

We will move on, we will miss them, but we will be stronger as a community for it.

Chris McCollough | April 19, 2007 1:42 PM

Deepest sympathies from London everyone... What can you say, after this...?

Callum Watkinson | April 19, 2007 4:08 PM

i just wanted to drop a line or two and convey my deepest sorrow for what transpired on monday. no community of any people should have to endure what you have these last few days. peace on earth to everyone.

william bailey jr | April 19, 2007 4:25 PM

How about retiring jersey number 32 in honor of those we've lost?

nealb, class of 96 | April 20, 2007 9:39 AM

Great job making it to the Orange bowl. Coach Beamer and his staff are a first class operation all the way. P.S Frank I thank you for a great season and for the signed ball.

Jonathan D Beamer | January 8, 2008 7:51 PM

VT is first class all the way

Jonathan D Beamer | January 8, 2008 7:53 PM