Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 4 | February 2022 27 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL Women’s basketball at Virginia Tech has a fascinating and relatively new history, with the team achieving full varsity status in 1976. Early club names such as “Turkey Hens” gave way to the moniker “Lady Hokies” in the ’80’s. You’ve come a long way, Hokies! Since becoming a varsity sport, our Hokies have boasted only seven coaches. In today’s spotlight is Coach Beth Dunkenberger, the fifth coach to grace the Cassell sidelines with our women’s basketball team. A standout player (all-conference honoree and an Academic District All-American) at Randolph-Macon College, Dunkenberger’s first formal experience with Virginia Tech athletics came when she served as a camp counselor in the summers of her college years. After her college graduation in ’90, she began work on a master’s degree in education at Virginia Tech while serving as a graduate assistant for the Hokies under Coach Carol Alfano. Under Dunkenberger’s direction, average summer camp attendance grew from 20 to over 1,000 campers. Dunkenberger was hired as a full-time assistant, a position she held until 1997. From 1997 to 2000, Dunkenberger was an assistant coach at the University of Florida, where she helped the Gators achieve a combined 73-36 record. In 2000, she took her first head coach position at Western Carolina where she led the team to a 21-7 record in the 2002-03 season—the Catamounts first ever winning season. Dunkenberger was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year. In ’04, home was calling Dunkenberger, a Shawsville, VA native, when she returned to southwest Virginia to take the head coach position at Virginia Tech. Though her father ran track at the UVA, Dunkenberger had always found a place in her heart for both universities. When asked what it was like to coach Division I basketball in her own backyard, Dunkenberger exclaimed, “SO MUCH FUN! It’s not often that you can coach in the ACC, and do it where you grew up, where my family and friends could be a part of it. And the Virginia Tech supporters there became family.” Dunkenberger claims crowd support as one of her favorite things about her experience as a Hokie. She recalls the Hardwood Classic in her first year of coaching. “We walked into Cassell, and the feel of that energy is something I’ll never forget. It really was jaw-dropping.” The Hokies had approximately 12,000 fans over the two-day tournament. The Turkey Hens would be proud. Dunkenberger and the Hokies achieved postseason play three times and 0.500 or better records five times. Four Hokies earned All-ACC honors: Kerri Gardin (’05 & ’06), Kirby Copeland (’07), Brittany Cook (’08), Utahya Drye (’09), while Andrea Barbour was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team in 2008. Dunkenberger left Virginia Tech in 2011 to serve as a Director of Operations and later Assistant Coach at Tulane (2011-21), a time during which the Green Wave made five postseason appearances. Over her coaching career, Dunkenberger has helped lead her teams to 13 postseason appearances (seven NCAA Tournaments, six WNIT) and twelve 20-win seasons. She has coached 23 all-conference players, six all-freshman team members, two conference most improved players, and eight players who went on to play professional basketball, either in the WNBA or overseas. Dunkenberger’s key to success? “All the people you surround yourself with from recruits to staff…surround yourself with GREAT people and players.” Dunkenberger is beginning her first year as an Assistant Coach with the Miami Hurricanes, who will meet the Hokies at Cassell this season. When asked her prediction for the game, Dunkenberger—ever the diplomat—replied, “I know Tech will have a good team, and I know it will be a good game. I can’t wait to get there in February. I want everybody to show up and everybody to wear orange.” For more on WBB and reconnecting with WBB alumna, contact Jamie Little ’89 ( SPIRIT We continue to highlight our Cheerleaders and HighTechs that have “gone pro” in their post college experiences. (Spirit representative: Mary-Catherine Steigerwald ’10; Ceci Nguyen–’16 (BA-Public Relations) danced for the Virginia Tech HighTechs from 2011-15. During her time in Blacksburg, she earned the honor of team captain and MVP for 2 consecutive years, student-assistant coach, and helped lead the team to place top 3 in Division IA at the NDA Collegiate Dance Team Championship. Ceci still returns to Virginia Tech to help judge HighTech auditions and give back to a program that gave her the foundation to continue reaching for excellence in all areas of her life after college. A student-athlete at heart, Ceci moved back to the D.C. area where she not only worked full-time for the Washington Football Team and eventually KABOOM!, the national nonprofit leading work in play-space equity but was also paid to dance part-time as an NFL cheerleader. Over the course of 4 years, she was co-captain, selected as the team’s 2020 Pro Bowl Cheer Representative, and coached their junior competitive teams to win five national titles at the UDA National Dance Team Championship. In 2021 while searching for new opportunities, Ceci retired as an NFL cheerleader and became an NBA dancer for the Golden State Warriors, moving across the country from D.C. to San Francisco to grow as a dancer, mentor, and champion for young athletes. She also recently accepted a new senior position at The Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit organization that drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to achieve a free, just, and equitable society. Ceci states that “my experience at Virginia Tech as a student-athlete truly gave me the support, tools, and confidence I needed to pursue and achieve success in multiple careers and passions. I’m so proud to represent Virginia Tech and carry on the legacy of Hokie Nation everywhere I go.” BASEBALL Former Virginia Tech infielder Jeff Day–’01 ( played baseball for the Hokies from 1998 to 2000. Jeff was also a talented soccer player and laced up his cleats for the Hokies varsity soccer team in ’97 & ’98! Jeff was not only successful on the athletic fields while at Virginia Tech, but he was also an accomplished student earning both a B.S. in Human, Nutrition, Food and Exercise and a M.A. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Club Baseball Director, Chip Runyon–’02 (, caught up with Jeff and here are outtakes from the interview. Q: It’s rare to find multi-sport athletes on the NCAA Division 1 level and I find it especially unique to do it in the two sports you played while at Virginia Tech. Tell us a little bit about how you ended up playing both soccer and baseball at Virginia Tech. JD Thanks for the question and I just want to say that I was lucky enough to play both for the Hokies. Your question was asked quite often, especially from Virginia-based athletes in the spring semester of my freshman year when soccer went into the off season and baseball came into season. The reason I was able to play both that year is because in northern New Jersey high school soccer is played during the fall which allowed me to play both my entire life and also split my time in the off seasons and summers on both sports. During the winter I played basketball and truly enjoyed playing all three sports until I came to Virginia Tech. I played both sports for my freshman year before I eventually stuck with baseball the remainder of the time. Unfortunately, I think the days of athletes playing multiple sports through high school are behind us with the pressure on specialization so early in their careers. I’m still holding on strong to the importance of multiple sport experiences for young players, including my own two kids. Continued on page 28