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. 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 do.”
The school Tuesday also postponed a baseball game against William & Mary that was to have been played Wednesday. Five spring sports teams will participate in ACC championships as scheduled, the school said.
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.”
He said he thinks 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.”
NATIONALS TRIBUTE: The Washington Nationals wore Virginia Tech baseball caps during Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves as a tribute to the victims of the shooting rampage at the school.
Nationals players wore a few different versions of the hats; most were burgundy with “VT” in orange or white. Manager Manny Acta, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and other coaches wore white “VT” caps with burgundy stitching.
The Nationals said the idea of wearing the Virginia Tech caps came from a fan, who e-mailed team president Stan Kasten.
The Nationals held moments of silence for the victims of Monday’s shooting before their home games Monday and Tuesday. Washington’s RFK Stadium is about 4 hours away from the university’s Blacksburg campus.