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August 21, 2012

Tech's student-athletes have numerous role models within the department

By: Reyna Gilbert-Lowry

With the recent birth of my first child, I've been thinking more and more about what kind of example I want to be for her, and the impact that my decisions will have on her as she gets older. As a working mom, sister, wife and friend, I know that the many roles I play will eventually impact whom she becomes later on in life. I am, in fact, her first role model. It also got me thinking about our student-athletes and what types of role models they are surrounded by within the Virginia Tech athletics department. They interact with coaches, trainers and senior administrators on a regular basis, and each of these individuals leaves an impression, whether they know it or not.

Each year, the department conducts an exit survey for student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility to evaluate the department from the perspective of the student-athlete. One question asks student-athletes were there faculty/staff or administrators they could talk to if they had a problem or concern. After the 2010-11 academic year, more than half of those surveyed “strongly agreed” to having role models in faculty, staff or administrator positions. These results serve as a testament to the connections that these individuals have developed with our young adults.

Take senior associate AD and senior woman administrator Sharon McCloskey, who graduated from Tech in 1979, began working as an athletics department receptionist in 1984 and was named senior associate AD in 1995. She has been the department administrator for men's and women's basketball, football, lacrosse and women’s soccer. She knows the importance of setting clear goals and working hard to reach them, and clearly she epitomizes the phrase, “working your way to the top.” It is important for young women who are interested in pursuing a career in intercollegiate athletics to have someone they can look up to and connect with, and McCloskey is an example of this.

It's not always easy to practice the Ut Prosim motto on a regular basis, but no one embodies its spirit better than head baseball coach Pete Hughes. Not only does he strive for success from his players on the field and in the classroom, but he also wants them to become better men before their time at Tech comes to an end. In 2010, he implemented the “19 Ways” program with his baseball team in honor of his mother, Alice, to encourage his players to find various ways to make a difference in the community.

On an annual basis, Hughes expects the team to be a part of 19 different occasions that positively impact an individual or organization. He has taken it upon himself to model what he wants his players to become following their tenures at Tech – a family man who is committed to helping others and living a life of true servant leadership.

Dr. Amy Doolan, formerly Amy Wetzel, currently serves as a team physician. As a standout point guard on the women's basketball team from 1996-2001, Doolan's impact was evident, as she is still a member of the 1,000-point club, ranks sixth on the all-time scoring list, and still holds the school record for games played, minutes played, and made free throws. She can relate first hand to the rigors of balancing life as a student-athlete, and this experience comes in handy when working with student-athletes in the Sports Medicine Clinic.

Doolan earned her osteopathic medical degree in 2007 from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed a sports medicine fellowship and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Sports Medicine at VCOM. She provides family and sports medicine to the community through Academic Primary Care Associates in Blacksburg. She inspires student-athletes to use their gifts and talents to give back to Blacksburg and the surrounding communities.

Pursuing a career that plays a major role in the lives of student-athletes comes with a level of responsibility. The aforementioned individuals, along with many others, have each done an outstanding job of "modeling the way" for our young adults who will hopefully pay it forward for the next generation.