Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 12 No. 1 | August 2019

M a ny donors who contribute to the mission of the Virginia Tech Athletics Department do so for the purpose of positioning themselves for season ticket purchases. But if they realized it, they would be truly honored at how their financial resources get put to use. A great example of that plays on Virginia Tech’s volleyball team, where a funny, engaging, smart, and gifted player quite honestly might not have gone to college without that support. Carol Raffety insists that she resembles every other Virginia Tech student-athlete. She attends classes daily. Goes to practices and gets sore after them. Enjoys naps. Scrolls through Instagram, occasionally posting. Hangs out with friends. Succeeds in her sport, as evidenced by her standing as one of the ACC’s top liberos—she notched her 1,000th career dig last season. But a deeper dive reveals so much more. Her story involves a painful tragedy, a brave mother, a close family, a bold decision, a willingness to persevere, and ultimately, undeniable success. Her story has earned her the respect of her teammates, who named her a team captain for this fall and the squad’s de facto “heart and soul.” “I think she is in a lot of ways,” Virginia Tech volleyball coach Jill Wilson agreed. “She embodies the work ethic and passion for this school and also has an appreciation for what being a part of this program and getting a degree means. Having all that is really important for one of our captains. We have more depth and more kids who are getting that same mentality—and she’s been a big part of that.” DEALING WITH TRAGEDY Raffety never knewhim—themanwho was her father, a husband to hermother, and amanwho honorably served this country as a member of the Army. She really only knows of him through old photographs and what she gleans from family members. She keeps a photo of her and her sister with him at the beach as a constant reminder. Michael Raffety took his life when Carol was 2 years old. He left behind wife Vanny and his two girls—Carol and her older sister, Maxine. “He was bipolar,” Carol said. “He had a lot of emotional problems. He hit a point in his life where he thought he was incapable, and he was depressed and couldn’t be in the O PPORTUN DIGGING HER Carol Raffety used a strong family support system and volleyball to overcome the death of her father and make herself a successful student-athlete at Virginia Tech by Jimmy Robertson 36 Inside Hokie Sports