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September 10, 2013

Former Tech receiver Myron Richardson is living up to the university’s motto

By: Jimmy Robertson

Myron Richardson caught a game-high five passes for 69 yards to help the Hokies upset then-No. 9 West Virginia 12-10
in 1989.

Just about all Americans can probably remember their whereabouts on the day of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked both the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Most probably spent the day glued to the television, watching the video footage of what transpired on arguably the worst day in America’s history.

Former Virginia Tech football player Myron Richardson was not one of those people. He didn’t watch on the television as the events unfolded. Instead, he got a firsthand look at the destruction in real time.

Richardson has worked as a firefighter and paramedic with the Arlington County Fire Department near Washington, D.C., for the past 22 years. On that fateful day, he and other members of the fire department went to the Pentagon, put out the fires, helped take out the 189 who lost their lives and helped the injured. It’s a day he’ll never forget.

“It was the longest and scariest day of my life,” he said. “They said there was another plane coming, and everyone was worried. Fortunately, everything worked out and that didn’t happen, but that day was grueling and horrendous.”

Richardson enjoyed much happier times during his playing days at Tech in the late-1980s. And he has enjoyed happier times since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He came to Tech in 1986, a receiver out of Richmond, who was recruited by former assistant coach Steve Marshall. He received interest from some colleges, but picked Tech mostly because his mother wanted to be able to come to the games and see him play.

He played as a true freshman on Bill Dooley’s Peach Bowl team that went 10-1-1 and punctuated the season with a 25-24 last-second victory over NC State in the Peach Bowl. In that game, Richardson caught one pass for 5 yards.

“I was a little surprised I played that season,” he said. “Most people redshirt. Everything was new to me, just making the transition from high school to college. It was a little scary. I just didn’t want to mess up. But I thought I was talented, and I had confidence. I was just a little nervous. Nervous energy, I guess you’d call it.”

Richardson spent most of that season backing up a name familiar to Tech fans – David Everett. Everett now works in The Virginia Tech Athletic Fund office (better known as the Hokie Club) and helps raise money for the athletics department.

“David helped me a lot,” Richardson said. “He was a junior, and I was a freshman. He helped me learn the plays, and he helped me get lined up on certain plays.”

Unfortunately, Richardson and his classmates would not make it to another bowl game after their freshman season. Dooley had resigned during that season amidst recruiting violations, and new coach Frank Beamer got stuck dealing with the ramifications for the next few years. The NCAA placed the Hokies on probation following that season.

The Hokies did go 6-4-1 in Richardson’s senior year. But a late-season loss to rival Virginia in Charlottesville probably squelched any bowl hopes.

Still, he had plenty of great memories of his playing days. During his senior season, the Hokies stunned then-No. 9 West Virginia 12-10 in Morgantown, W.Va., and they beat Tulane 30-13 in Blacksburg that season in a game that Beamer missed while undergoing coronary angioplasty surgery. Assistant coach Billy Hite filled in for Beamer, and Richardson caught a touchdown pass in the game.

When he graduated from Tech, Myron Richardson was the third
Tech receiver ever to haul in 100 career passes and the
second to record more than 1,500 career receiving yards.

“I would say my freshman year,” Richardson said when asked of his most memorable moment at Tech. “After that year, our first year under Beamer, I think we went 2-9. Then, I think we went 3-8 and 5-6 [actually 6-4-1]. Under Dooley, we had been winning and went to the Peach Bowl, and I had expected us to just keep winning.

“But we struggled with the transition. Obviously Coach Beamer got it turned around, as you can tell.”

Despite the lack of team success during his final three years, Richardson enjoyed his share of individual success. He caught 36 passes for 583 yards and a touchdown as a junior, and his senior season, he hauled in 28 passes for 455 yards and four touchdowns. He led the team in receiving both seasons.

For his career, Richardson caught exactly 100 passes for 1,541 yards and nine touchdowns. At the time, he was the third Tech receiver ever to haul in 100 career passes and the second to catch more than 1,500 career yards. Interestingly, though, Richardson finished his career with just one 100-yard receiving game. That came in his junior year against Virginia when he caught five passes for 129 yards in Tech’s 16-10 defeat to the Cavaliers.

In 1990, he graduated with a degree in sociology and returned to Richmond to work for a local business there. But it wasn’t something he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

He decided to attend a job fair at Virginia Union, a historically African-American university in Richmond where his brother was attending college. He put in applications with numerous companies and small businesses, and one of those was for a position as a firefighter in Arlington County.

“I thought I would do something in public service when I graduated from Tech,” Richardson said. “I knew a lot of firefighters, but I don’t know that I ever thought I would be one. But I applied for that job, and the rest is history.

“I just like helping people. I also like the physical challenge of it. It’s kept me in shape, and it’s interesting, too. I don’t have to sit behind a desk. That wasn’t for me.”

Richardson has risen to the rank of captain II and also serves as an emergency medical technician and is a registered paramedic. He oversees three ambulances.

Today, he lives in Upper Marlboro, Md., with his family and commutes to Arlington. His wife, Trina, is a dentist, and the couple has two sons, ages 14 and 12.

Despite his busy life – his sons are involved in swimming, basketball and golf – he manages to get back to Blacksburg at least once a year.

“I brought my sons down for the spring game,” Richardson said. “They got to meet Coach Beamer, and I got to see all the new facilities. Obviously, things have changed a lot since I played there.

“I try to keep up with a few of my teammates, mostly through Facebook. I call a couple of them on a regular basis, guys like Phil Bryant and Greg Daniels and Malcolm Blacken. Malcolm is now working for the Redskins [as the director of player development].”

No matter how often he talks with them or sees them, they – and all Tech fans – can appreciate the importance of his job. Virginia Tech’s motto of Ut Prosim means “That I may serve,” and he’s been a living example of that motto since he departed the school.

Given that he likes his job and helping others, it’s probably safe to say that he’s not going to visit any career fairs any time soon.