TechHoops: What is the purpose of the Roundball Club?
Steve: I will give you two answers to this oneâ€¦ the official one, and the one that I use to answer that question.
Official – The Mission of the Roundball Club is to:
1. Promote public awareness of our Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball Program
2. Foster the goals and policies of the Virginia Tech Athletic Department
3. Provide the level of spirited support and resources required for our program to achieve national prominence
Now, my answerâ€¦ The Roundball Club was created at a time when the Menâ€™s Basketball program was not doing so well (2000), and Football reigned king on campus. This group was created to show the Menâ€™s team that there were people out there who cared about basketball and not just football. Over the years, this relatively small group of people has been able to create a family atmosphere with the Menâ€™s team that shows them the support the football team receives from 65,000+ at each game. Now, with the team doing better and better in the ACC and on the national stage, it gives the team a chance to visit with that same group of people who were there during the â€œnot-so-goodâ€ times and enjoy the successful moments.
Also, we are in existence to â€œpullâ€ in some funds specifically for Menâ€™s basketball. When people make their donations to the Hokie Clubâ€¦ most times they do not specify where those funds should be directed. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with thatâ€¦ at a football school, you can â€œassumeâ€ where a majority of funds might go. When a person becomes a member of the Roundball Club, they designate their money to go to menâ€™s basketball. Membership benefits you because of access to the players, while using part of your Hokie Club contributions for membership.
TechHoops: Could you describe some of the events that the Roundball Club offers its members?
Steve: The main events that the Roundball Club offers its members are socials with the team and coaches after select games (most notably weekend home games). These events provide a chance for the members to have one on one face time with every member of the basketball team and the coaching staff. These events occur immediately after the game and last until the final member of the team leaves (there is no time limit). We provide food, ranging from pizza to fully catered by select restaurants, and beverages to be enjoyed while we are waiting for the team and coaches to join us. These socials provide UNPRECENTED access to the players and coaches at five to six socials per year. You can ask them anything, get autographs, pictures, etc. No other club/sport on campus can offer that kind of access.
In addition, we try to let members know when the team is coming back in town after an away game, so we can meet the bus to welcome them home. It means a lot to them to see friendly faces when they step off that busâ€¦whether it is after a big win, or a heartbreaking loss.
We are trying to expand the Roundball Club to do more events, but as stated above, it is a fairly small group right now, and it makes it a little difficult to plan a lot of things with the team. In the past, there have been welcome back dinners, season kickoff dinners, etc. We are trying to plan a welcome back picnic for the teamâ€¦ we will publish details if that comes to fruition. Also, this year we are going to try and push to have events at Coachâ€™s show on Monday nights (The Hokie Hotline). The more members we have, the more opportunities to do things with the team.
TechHoops: How does one become a member of the Roundball Club?
Steve: Just sign upâ€¦ha ha ha!
Seriously, there are a number of ways that we â€œget out the wordâ€ to join Roundball Club. First is the season ticket order form. When this goes out, a Roundball Club application will be in the packet with the renewal form. Second, is via our websiteâ€¦ http://www.roundball.org.vt.edu. It is in the process of being revamped, but anyone can go there and download the application. Third is at the socials. We always are ready to welcome new members and are available to take membership applications at a social. Fourth, Techsideline.com has been gracious enough to advertise for the Roundball Club on their websiteâ€¦ providing a link to download the application.
Once you are a member, membership comes with some nice perks. Depending on the level of membership, merchandise is provided*. All members receive a membership card, Roundball Club pin, Menâ€™s Basketball Media Guide, team picture and Roundball Club t-shirt. If a person donates at the Fast Break level they receive an official menâ€™s basketball item (in years past, this included a polo, or a fleece pullover). If they join at the top level, Slam Dunk, they will receive the Fast Break item, plus another item exclusive to Slam Dunk members (such as a team jacket or full windsuit). Also exclusive to Slam Dunk members is the ability to be an honorary coach at select basketball games. You will go to shoot around practice with the team, watch video on that nightâ€™s opponent, eat with the team, watch them run out of the tunnel, and watch the game from the floor.
*Please note that there is a limit on all merchandise to 1 per membership.
TechHoops: Can you give TechHoops.com a preview of some of the events and activities that the Roundball Club will be hosting next year?
Steve: Absolutelyâ€¦ well, we are obviously planning socials. We will not know which games are possibilities for socials until the schedule is released. Once that happens, we will pick the games for the socials, and send out â€œSave the Dateâ€ cards. As stated before, it is usually 5-6 socials.
We are trying to plan a Welcome Back Picnic, but from what I hear, the team is hitting the ground running hard this season, so that might be a wait and see.
We want to make the Hokie Hotline for Coach Greenberg an event like it is for Coach Beamer, so are working towards ways to make Monday night the place to be from 7-8.
We are also going to work towards establishing a place to have impromptu socials for away games. A place we can all get together to watch our beloved Hokies and share some good times together.
TechHoops: Have you seen a difference in the Roundball Club since the resurgence of Tech basketball?
Steve: Ever since Seth Greenberg walked on campus, there has been a different air about the perception of the basketball team, and that spills over to the Roundball Club. You have to understand that the Roundball Club has members who are the â€œdie hardsâ€â€¦these are the people that love these guys whether they finish 20-10 and go to the NCAAs or finish 10-20 and donâ€™t go to any postseason play. That being said, Coach has really brought a sense of ownership to the team, the Roundball Club, and the Virginia Tech community. Have there been more people at socials since we started winning more gamesâ€¦ sure there have been; that is just natural butâ€¦ the core of membership (the ones that have been through the good and bad) are always present.
I think what I have seen most is a higher sense of pride from the members of the Roundball Clubâ€¦ they truly feel connected to the players and coaches. The year where nothing went right (2005-2006 season) really showed the team and coaches that the Roundball Club was there to stay, and was there to support the team during the good and bad. With that kind of support, it makes a season like this past year all that sweeter to enjoy with the team.
TechHoops: What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the Virginia Tech basketball program off the court?
Steve: Wowâ€¦ that is a tough question. You know, there is always the standard answer: take care of business in the classroom, and continue to work in the weight room and film room. However I am going to answer it this way. We lost 5 great senior leaders (Zabian, Jamon, Coleman, Markus, and Chris), and now we have lost two others to transfers. Who is going to step up and take the challenge of being a leader? Is it Deron? A.D.? We have a lot of freshman coming into the program, and before this team EVER steps foot on a court, it is the leadership from individuals on this team that will decide what kind of season we are going to have.
TechHoops: What is the current make up of the Roundball Club membership? Is it primarily made up of local fans/alums who can attend many of the games? Does it include many young alumni, or does the club attract those who have been out of college for awhile?
Steve: Scrolling through our membership database, I would say that roughly 80% live within 75 miles of Virginia Tech. That is not to say we donâ€™t have members from further awayâ€¦I know we have members from Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and so on. But a vast majority does live closer to Virginia Tech.
The membership in Roundball Club is made up of fans from all walks of life. At the socials, ages vary from infants all the way through a more experienced population. All of the members are people who love Virginia Tech Basketballâ€¦but I would say that our membership does lean to a more seasoned (been out of college for a while) membership. That is not to say we wouldnâ€™t LOVE to have younger alumni join. You do not have to be a season ticket holder to join the Roundball Club, but there definitely seems to be a correlation between those two things. And with all the costs associated with getting tickets (Hokie Club contributions â€“ **which most of your Roundball Club membership goes to paying if you designate it**, season ticket prices, accommodations if you stay, etc)â€¦ many young alumni are not in a position to do all of that for basketball and Football. We would love to attract younger alumni, and maybe TechHoops will assist in achieving that.
TechHoops: Name the top 3 Tech basketball games that you’ve attended, and why?
Steve: Two of these are EASY! Let me preface my choices with the fact that I am part of that younger generation of fans, so I donâ€™t have the great Virginia Tech teams of the past to choose from. I know many will disagree with my choices, but that is what great debate is for, right? Alright, that being said, here are my choices in order:
1) Virginia Tech vs. new mexico state (March 22, 1995). I was a junior, and we were playing them for the right to go to New York City for the NIT Semi-Finals. The place was ELECTRICâ€¦ the only other time I have felt that same electricity was when we played maryland last year during the ice storm (January 21, 2007). Both games had a mostly student contingency on hand, and the place was amazing both nights
2) Virginia Tech vs. duke (February 17, 2005). The first BIG win as a member of the ACC in Basketball. I was sitting in the stands with my wife, my sister-in-law (huge duke fan), and the pastor from our church (duke Seminary alumni). Watching that game play out over the course of both halvesâ€¦from thinking we havenâ€™t got a chance (lost 100-65 the first time we played)â€¦ to us just â€œhanging aroundâ€â€¦ the absolute worried looks on our guests facesâ€¦ to when we pulled ahead, and then finally getting the stop at the end. What a game!!!! I will never forget the looks on my sister-in-lawâ€™s and pastorâ€™s face at the end of that gameâ€¦PRICELESS!!!
3) Virginia Tech vs. unc-chapel hill. I really had a tough choice between choosing this and that maryland game I stated in #1, but any time you beat the #1 team in the country on your home floor it is special!!! From the huge, and I mean HUGE lead, we had over them, to the absolute agony of watching the end of that game. This one had it all! Steals, dunks, intensity, doubt, elationâ€¦ pick one! It was an amazing game to watchâ€¦ and even better to be with the guys after the game to enjoy it at the social!
TechHoops: What are your duties as the President of the Roundball Club?
Steve: As President, my duties seem to really be centered on communication and membership. There are many different things that go on from day-to-day (which is getting ready to ramp up over the next few weeks), but in my opinion what is most important is keeping the members involved and informed about what is going on, and continuously working to attract new members. I have always said it is easier to keep ALL your members coming back than it is to try and attract new members to the Roundball Club. And, I truly believe that if you listen to your membership, and work to always keep them happy, things will be successful. Letâ€™s face it, this is not â€œmyâ€ clubâ€¦it is â€œourâ€ club, and when the members feel they have a voice in the direction of Roundball Club, it only makes it better. But, new members, and new blood can be great for the club too. Fresh ideas, new excitementâ€¦ we need that too!
TechHoops: Who is your all-time favorite Tech basketball player, and why?
Steve: Againâ€¦ prefacing with the fact that I am â€œnewâ€ school, I have to say that my favorite player is Zabian Dowdell. As a member of the Roundball Club, I got a chance to know Zabian on a personal level, and watch him grow as a player and a person. I got see the pain he went through after every loss, and the absolute joy he showed when we won. And that smile of his is just infectious. He is such a great basketball player, but even more soâ€¦ he is just a fantastic person. Zabian was never afraid to be â€œthe guyâ€â€¦ he relished the opportunity. He wanted the ball in his hands during crunch timeâ€¦ and there really isnâ€™t anyone I would want more to take the last shot of the game! Zabian is an amazing representative of himself, his basketball team, and the Hokie Nationâ€¦ that is why he is my favorite Tech basketball player!
TechHoops.com encourages all of our readers to join the Roundball Club for the upcoming baskbetall season. Check out their website and membership application for more details. We thank Steve Castle for his participation in this Q & A.
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