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The Ultimate Hype


It is World Series time. Shortly after this is posted, the Virginia Tech softball team will begin play in the Women’s College World Series. Superstar pitcher Angela Tincher and the rest of the Tech team will be testing themselves against the best there is in the 8-team field. In a way, it will be sorry to see the games begin and the focus shifted to the playing field. Observing the hype around this team in itself has been something to behold.

Hokiesports is not exactly known for the dignified, understated or at times truthful ways in which it goes about its business of promoting Tech athletics. This, of, course, makes them no different from any other SID department at any other college, or those charged with promoting and protecting the public image of any corporation or political candidate.

The job of PR flacks in these Media Is The Message days is to hype and spin, hype and spin, then hype and spin some more. It has likely been that way since Eve attempted to put a positive spin on things by pointing out that she was merely following USDA guidelines and incorporating fresh fruit into her diet.

Like the Tech softball girls, Hokiesports has taken it to the next level. It is all great fun, not unlike Hillary’s spinmeisters having her televised sitting around a bar with the guys knocking back shots of liquor.

The various stories running in the media about the Tech players are doing an excellent job of adding an even more human touch to this very personable group of girls. We have been informed that Misty Hall is not only the clutch hitting, slick-fielding shortstop we have been seeing, but also a bit of a klutz, especially when chasing grasshoppers around the Arizona desert. On the other hand, she has displayed much better dexterity when handling a shotgun. I bet there ain’t many players in the series who have collected two pelts while hunting bears.

Caroline Stolle calms herself in the batter’s box by thinking about her dog Molly. Beth Walker, with no scholarship offers filtering down to her remote Galax residence, caught the eye of Tech coaches by showing up at the softball camp clad in hoo shorts. That certainly did the trick. While the focus and intensity of Angela Tincher is on vivid display every time ESPN zooms in for a close-up, which is a lot, we were also informed that it was of such an astounding level that she passed on a team shopping trip to an Ann Arbor mall in order to conserve her energies. Now that is dedication.

It is also pretty run-of-the mill stuff for SID people. Passing these tidbits along to news folks is standard fare. So was the manner in which the word of Tincher winning all national softball player awards has been handled. The television footage of Angela accepting the Lowe’s award in the parking lot of the local store might not have been the Downtown Athletic Club, but it will do in a pinch. This is what SID staffs are paid to do.

Where the Tech PR people took it to the next level was in the gathering for the team’s departure from Tech for Oklahoma City. It was quite an affair, with many television cameras on hand to record the activity. There was what one would normally expect, interviews with the players and images of jimmy chatting with Scot Thomas.

An entirely new dimension was reached, however, when the cameras showed us marching up Spring Road to the gathering none other than Frank and his coaching staff. This really was big news, probably dropping the over/under on how long it will take the ESPN announcers to mention Frank during the softball telecast by an inning, down to roughly 1.5.

Even bigger was what happened after the expected shots of Frank handing out the Team United bracelets and Bud talking with the girls. We were then treated to pictures of Mike O’Cain and Billy Hite loading the girls’ luggage onto the bus.

Billy Hite? Mike O’Cain likely has some recent experience with manual labor during that year he spent bussing tables at Beamer’s as QB Coach-in-Waiting, killing time before Kevin Rogers moved on. But Billy? This is a guy who in the last couple of decades probably hasn’t lifted anything heavier than a cigarette lighter. For Hokiesports to get him to actually come out and be photographed slinging around luggage is truly remarkable, the best indication yet that the hype surrounding the softball team has reached new heights. Top that with those lame efforts on your tennis team, Hooville.

In a very short time, Tech will get underway in the final stage of their magical season. Win or lose, it has been great fun watching a team that has been such great ambassadors for Virginia Tech. But, since they are there, they might as well go ahead and win it all. Then we might get to see Billy Hite unloading the luggage, too.

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