Ginny Doyle Tribute 11: Hundreds Pay Farewell at Life Celebration
PHILADELPHIA -- As the hour neared on Tuesday night to begin the life celebration of former Archbishop Ryan star Ginny Doyle, the Richmond associate head women's basketball coach of her alma mater who was one of the three victims who died in the balloon accident on May 10 in Virginia, the skies over the city darkened and unleashed a gush of tears in the form of raindrops to mourn her untimely passing at the age of 44.
The fast-moving storm did not stop family, friends and many notables in the women's basketball world from the area and across the country to attend the first of a two-day tribute to Doyle, which will conclude Wednesday morning with an hour of private prayer at 10 a.m. followed by a mass at 11 at St. Bede's Church on Holland Road in Lower Bucks County.
Also killed in the accident when the balloon struck power lines while coming in for a landing were Natalie Lewis, the Spiders' operations director for women's basketball, and the balloon's pilot Dan T. Kirk.
According to officials at the Givnish Funeral Home in Northeast Philadelphia where the life celebraton was held, about 400 people came through the line that formed at about 6:30 p.m. and ended with the last person to leave shortly before 11.
Many more will be at the church Wednesday morning and most of the first hour is devoted to enable those who did not get to the funeral home to pay their respects to Doyle's relatives.
A family member will offer the eulogy near the end of the hour of prayer and Ginny brother's Joe, who is not giving the tribute, said the presentation will recall the life of "Dead-Eye Doyle."
That was the nickname she earned for being a prolific foul shooter who set an NCAA record with 66 straight free throws that was eclipsed years later.
Doyle would have been pleased with the array of mementos from her life that were displayed in a separate room that for the night became her personal Hall of Fame.
There were photos of life with her personal family as well as many of her in action on the court and on the sidelines.
Her jersey was in the room as well as the ball with which she set the NCAA record.
Several collages were on the walls also from her career and life.
There were also photos of the famous confrontation in a free throw shootout against CBS analyst Billy Packer, which occurred several weeks after she set the record.
The next day after Doyle made national headlines, Packer quipped that it should be noted the women used a smaller ball as a response when the achievement was mentioned during a broadcast.
He was scheduled to be in Richmond so a challenge was set up with some 1,200 locals cheering Doyle and she did not disappoint in making all 20 attempts while Packer connected with just 12.
It was all in good fun and both sides enjoyed the experience.
Upon entering Givnish Tuesday night, the attendees were given a prayer card in the form of a ticket. The back had a prayer and the kfront had her picture with the top Sec 6 Row 16 and Seat 69 noting Doyle's date of birth and the bottom Sec 5, Row 9, Seat 14 noting the date of the tragedy.
Also given out was a fold-out set of photos. (All these photos will be at the end of the post.)
Doyle's portrait was on the cover. On the inside were three panels of pictures. The first top to bottom was a picture on the sidelines, then an outdoor shot taken on some trip, and then the photo the university has had on its website with headshots of Lewis and Doyle.
The second panel had a picture of the immediate family, Doyle in action, Doyle confronting referee Bill Titus on the sidelines, and an outdoor shot from another trip.
The third panel at the top might be down the shore with pet doga, and then two pictures from the famous duel with Packer.
The back two pages has Doyle launching a shot and then a passage from an anonymous author.
It was obvious how much Doyle meant to people in the sport by some of the people who made it to the life celebration -- and apologies -- the Guru can't remember everybody.
Richmond coach Michael Shafer, most of the team, and other representatives of the university in general as well as the athletic department, arrived by bus.
WNBA Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan, who had Doyle on her staff when she coached at East Carolina, drove down and was driving back the 500 miles round trip the same night and sacrificed missing a tribal dinner with the Mohegans, who own the franchise.
Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who was on the same staff at Richmond as Doyle under Joanne Boyle, now at Virginia, flew direct from USA Basketball headquarters in Colorado Springs where she was on the selection committee this past weekend to choose players for the U-17 and U-18 squads.
Yale assistant Lauren Thomer, who also starred at Ryan years after Doyle, and became a good friend, was in the line as was Loyola of Maryland coach Joe Logan.
Locally, Drexel head coach Denise Dillon, associate head coach Amy Mallon, a teammate of Doyle's at Richmond, and Dragons assistant Melissa Dunne, a former Temple star, were in the line as were Delaware coach Tina Martin followed by her assistants Jeanine Radice and Tom Lochner while Rider's Lynn Milligan also came.
Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley, a former Villanova star who coached Doyle at Richmond, was there with her husband Frank and two of her sisters.
Marie Koch, director of officials for the Atlantic 10, was one of the early arrivals.
Former La Salle coach John Miller, now in charge of girls basketball at Mount St. Joseph's, who taught Doyle in class when he coached the Ryan boys team, attended as did Saint Joseph's director John DiJulia.
Providence coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl, a former Penn State star, arrived aa did her asssociate head coach Dan Durkin, a Philadelphia native who was once head coach at Duquesne and on the staffs of Tonya Cardoza at Temple and Rene Portland at Penn State.
Mike Flynn and Kevin Lynch of the locally based and nationally prominent Blue Star organization attended.
Both, who coached Doyle in AAU, were among a group of coaches who gathered afterwards at Miller's Ale House, a few miles away, to reminisce. Penn coach Mike McLaughlin dropped by the join the group.
All that said, the Guru needs some short sleep before heading to the church and still must try to insert the photos into this blog and you see what time this got posted.
Coverage of Wednesday's tribute will be up at sunrise Thursday.
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