A Shared Victory for Virginia Tech


They stood five in a row, six with their coach, faint smiles on their faces, arms around each others shoulders.
The scene was, at most, subdued. Certainly not what you would expect from a team having just won a championship.
At the same time that its extreme joy, theres a lot of sadness, too.
Those were the words of Ryan Sypniewski, the lone senior on the Virginia Tech mens golf team.
Sunday in New London, N.C., Virginia Tech, six days after the massacre of 32 students on their Blacksburg campus, won a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference Mens Golf Championship.
They did so for the first time since joining the ACC in 2004. They did so by shooting a 9-under 279 on the final day, tying the best performance of the week by any team.
We came out here today (Sunday) and gave it all we had, said sophomore Drew Weaver to ACC Video Services. We said today was for the 32 lives that were lost on Monday.
Virginia Tech tied Georgia Tech for medalist honors. The two teams ended the three-day competition at 10 under. Rather than go into a playoff, it was declared that both teams would share the title.
Sometimes in life things are supposed to work out the way theyre supposed to, Yellow Jackets coach Bruce Helper was quoted as saying. Their kids played an unbelievable event and (had) an unbelievable day.
The Virginia Tech team arrived at the Old North State Club 47th in the Sagarin Team collegiate rankings, without a single player ranked inside the top 180.
They really didnt have much of a chance to win, not in the ultra-competitive ACC, where six teams reside inside the top 25. They just had a lot of hope ' that and bunch of red eyes, scrambled minds and heavy hearts.
Toughest thing Ive ever had to do, Weaver said about trying to center his attention on golf when the tournament began Friday. It took me nine or 10 holes (in the first round) to really get focused. Still, I caught myself having lapses on the golf course every round.
Five back to start Sunday, Hokie players, one by one, came to the par-5 18th needing a little something special in order to have a chance at victory. Three of them made birdie. The other two made par.
It seemed like there was something a little extra out there with us today, something kind of eerie, said Sypniewski, who birdied four of his final seven holes for a 5-under 67. This last hole, definitely with what happened ' the sort of heroics, if you will ' it was eerie.
Added Jay Hardwick, in his 24th season as VT head coach, Im just really so proud of these guys. This week I was more of a father than a friend. They didnt need a lot of coaching this week.
But they got a lot of support. Most of the players in the field wore orange and maroon ribbons, in addition to the blue ribbons they pinned to their shirts and hats in remembrance of former Duke coach Rod Meyers, who died of leukemia on March 30. Some wore black wrist bands in observance of the tragedy. And even the University of Virginia, VTs most dreaded rival, handed their players Tech decals to put on their bags.
The show of support from my fellow coaches, the other teams in the ACC, the Atlantic Coast Conference office and the members and staff at Old North State made it possible for us to get through this week, Hardwick was quoted as saying on hokiesports.com.
As the Virginia Tech players and their coach accepted their medals and posed for pictures with the championship trophy, they did so with reservation. There were smiles and pats on the back, but no loud proclamations, no waving or raising of a single index finger.
This wasnt about one, or being No. 1. This was a shared victory. Not with Georgia Tech, but with all those still grieving back home and those 32 lost on April 16, 2007.
Winning is, coach Hardwick started to say before pausing for composure, taking it back home to the people who deserve it.
It puts everything into perspective. I think thats the word for the week ' perspective, said Sypniewski, the teams captain. It wasnt about making putts or hitting shots; it was about representing our school and representing the people we lost.
I cant wait to get back to Blacksburg.
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