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February 13, 2013

Hokies Supporting Hokies

By: Reyna Gilbert-Lowry

Virginia Tech student-athletes are taking care of each other’s families during difficult times

Liddle SistersCourtney (left) and Bailey Liddle created a video for their ill
mother that was filled with well wishes from numerous
Tech student-athletes.

Two members of the Tech softball team share an unbreakable bond. Sisters Courtney and Bailey Liddle have shared the highs of playing college softball together and the lows of finding out their mother, Nancy, who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, was not responding to the most recent treatments. The sisters wanted to do something to lift their mother’s spirits. They wanted her to feel the love that flows from Hokie Nation all the time and felt she deserved something for how hard she had been fighting. Early in the fall semester, Courtney had the idea of making a video for her mother after hearing what other teams were doing for Hokies who were battling different health issues.

Courtney told Bailey about the idea of creating a video for their mother, and Bailey suggested presenting the video to their mother for Christmas. An avid Hokie, Nancy Liddle is well known for her attendance at every home softball game since her oldest daughter began at Tech. The Liddle sisters knew hearing from fellow Hokies would be just what their mother needed to remain encouraged during such trying times. In November, the sisters borrowed a video camera from a teammate and started on their journey of collecting well wishes from fellow Hokies. When Bailey and Courtney told a few student-athletes about their idea, the outpouring of support was incredible.

"Everyone was so helpful, and the video is just really a small sample of the loving words that were shared," Courtney said. "I can't even count the number of people who wanted to be in the video but couldn't because of schedule conflicts or time constraints."

Student-athletes from football, softball, baseball, men’s basketball, swimming and diving and women’s cross country took the time to share a few words of encouragement. Coaches from several sports including softball, baseball, wrestling and swimming and football team chaplain Johnny Shelton also stepped up to show their support for Courtney and Bailey and the fight their mother was going through. Christmas day was full of emotion in the Liddle household, and Courtney and Bailey were thankful not only to share their present with their mother, but also of the unexpected volume of support they received from their Hokie family.

"Seeing my parents spill over with tears on Christmas morning was one of the most emotional moments of my life because, even though this cancer has brought our family so much heartbreak, my mom could finally see how inspirational she has been (and still is) to so many Hokies,” Courtney said. “I don't think there's any better place to be loved and supported. God knew the Hokie family would take care of the Liddles.”

With the amount of time Virginia Tech student-athletes spend together practicing, traveling and competing, it’s no wonder they consider their teammates and coaches to be an extended family. These, and so many others, are examples of the ways they support each other when it matters most. Although Hokie Pride isn’t something that can be seen, it can definitely be felt in the hearts of Tech student-athletes.

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