BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Frank Beamer grew up about an hour from
Blacksburg, played football for Virginia Tech and has become the
very familiar face of the university as the man who built the
Hokies into one of the nation's elite football programs.
But on Monday, Beamer was like so many others -- glued to the
television and watching as the details of mass murder on the campus
he loves slowly dribbled out.
On Tuesday, he canceled his team's last three spring practices
and Saturday's spring game, which is always a big draw at Lane
Stadium. None of his players were hurt in the shooting spree that
left 32 victims and the gunman dead.
"There's things more important than football right now," he
said after attending a somber convocation. "There's a lot of
grieving families here and there's going to be a lot of grieving
families here Saturday. I just thought it was the right thing to
In addition to Tuesday's softball game between Virginia Tech and East Tennessee State, Wednesday's non-conference baseball game at English Field between the Hokies and William & Mary also has been canceled.
Three home Atlantic Coast Conference events -- baseball, softball and lacrosse -- will go on as scheduled, the athletics department said in a statement. The baseball team will host Miami on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; the lacrosse team plays host to Maryland on Saturday at noon; and the softball team hosts Maryland on Saturday and Sunday.
The five athletic teams scheduled to compete at various conference championships -- golf, men's and women's outdoor track and field, men's and women's tennis -- will still compete as scheduled.
The first game to be played on campus will be on Friday with the Virginia Tech baseball team taking on Miami.
Beamer was in his office when news of the shootings broke, and
when he was cleared to leave at about noon, there was no way to
avoid watching. He said he tried to work out when he got home, but
the phone kept ringing, so finally he just watched.
"The most amazing thing is you know what this place is like,"
he said in his spacious football office. "And all of a sudden you
have a massacre."
A gunman, identified Tuesday morning as 23-year-old senior Cho Seung-Hui, massacred 32 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history. He shot his victims in two attacks two hours apart before the university could grasp what was happening and warn students.
The bloodbath ended with Cho committing suicide.
He said he imagines the school's reputation will take a beating
in the coming days as the nation remains gripped by the details of
the murders, but that he expects the best of Virginia Tech will
come forth, as well.
"If I know anything about Hokies, and I think I do, I think
what's going to happen is we're going to become closer, show even
more respect for each other," he said. "We're going to be even
more proud and it's going to draw us closer together."
Men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg has a daughter, Paige,
who's a freshman at Virginia Tech and was unharmed.
"I'm numb right now thinking about the parents coming to campus
to identify their children," Greenberg told the Web site. "It's
hard to put into words. What would drive someone to do this?
"This is the most peaceful, tranquil and safe environment. But
this shows that there is nowhere that you're safe from tragedy or
this type of senseless violence. It's devastating."
The convocation Tuesday packed Cassell Coliseum, and more than
20,000 people who didn't fit in the basketball arena watched on a
huge video screen inside Lane Stadium.
As the service was winding down, English professor Nikki
Giovanni led the crowd in a chant of "Let's go Hokies," the
crowd's volume increasing with each verse.
"I think what took place at the end of the ceremony, people
wanted to let it out and say, 'Hey, this one guy's not going to
beat us,'" Beamer said.
"We're hurt, but this one guy's not going to dictate how we're
going to act."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.