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Tragedy at Virginia Tech



Watching today's tragic news of a mass campus shooting at Virginia Tech that has left at least 21 people dead, I can't help but think of former USF coach Seth Greenberg, now the Hokies' coach.

When Greenberg came to Tampa last month for the ACC Tournament, he spoke of how much he had come to embrace life in Blacksburg, a big-city guy who had fallen for the appeal of a small town with little less than its campus, one pizza place, one steakhouse and so on. That peacefulness is now shattered, as inexplicably as any of the tragedies that leap to mind when we think of Littleton, Colo., or Red Lake, Minn.

The enormity of today's tragedy will likely forever link Virginia Tech with this one event, much as Kent State is known most for the shootings on its campus in 1970. Only four students died that day, and today's death toll is already at least five times that and still climbing. If you tell someone that Stan Heath spent one year at Kent State, they don't remember Antonio Gates; they remember 1970.

Before I covered USF, I covered high school sports in Pasco County, and one story I remember the most was that of Mitchell High catcher Brian Sommer, who was an eighth grader at a nearby middle school when the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado killed 12 students and a teacher in 1999. Sommer had friends among the Columbine victims, and I'm sure there will be similar stories that emerge from this tragedy -- it's something that reaches across the country and touches someone close to home at any newspaper seemingly far away.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:23am]


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