Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ginny Doyle Tribute 12: Eulogy and Homily Focus on Doyle's Many Attributes

By Mel Greenberg

With sorrow in their hearts but with joy blended into their grief in recalling the good times with Ginny Doyle, mourners gathered in the chapel of St. Bede the Venerable Parish Wednesday morning in lower Bucks County for the second of the two-day farewell services for the 44-year-old former Archbishop Ryan star who had been a longtime University of Richmond associate head women's basketball coach at her alma mater.

Doyle, basketball operations director Natalie Lewis, 24, of Buffalo and veteran captain Dan T. Kirk were killed on May 10 when the balloon Kirk was piloting at a festival near Richmond, Va., came in contact with power lines, caught fire and exploded while attempting to reach a designated landing area after being aloft with 12 other balloons, all of which reached ground safely.

Lewis was a swimmer with the Spiders before her graduation.

Circumstances of the accident are still being investigated.

One report had stated Kirk may have had a map that did not show the location of the power lines but the complete findings have yet to be released.

Doyle's twitter account @gdoyle33 was still online as of sunrise Thursday morning as this writing was being finalized for posting tot his blog.

The comments in Doyle's twitter account in the span of her final week are poignant as they stem from the excitment over having attended a seminar for assistant coaches to the moment six days later when the balloon she was to ride was about to take off.

Since the news of the horrific tragedy began to spread the next day through social media, news broadcasts, and simple word of mouth when the identities of the victims became apparent, there has been a tremendous outpouring of sympathy for the families of all three casualties.

But the death of Doyle has hit particularly hard in the women's basketball collegiate community where she was widely known across the country, first as a prolific foul shooter as a Hall of Famer at Ryan, a Catholic League school near here in Northeast Philadelphia, and then at Richmond, where she set an NCAA record that stood for a long time for connecting on 66 straight foul shots in 1991-92, her senior season.

That skill earned her the nickname "Deadeye Doyle."

In 1999 the former Spiders star became an assistant coach at Richmond, and in 2011 current head coach Michael Shafer, the third of three mentors she worked for, promoted her to associate head coach.

"I was told the greatest title she loved was that of 'Coach'," Monsigner John C. Marine, the pastor of St. Bede, said during his homily at the Mass for Doyle.

"She was a coach in the greatest meaning of that word," Marine remarked. "She loved to discover talented young people and help them to appreciate that talent and bring it out to the fullest.

"I understand she loved to tell stories and was told she took an interest in the story people told of their life. She listened. She was interested in people's lives, especially the young women of Richmond who came into her life," Marine continued.

"And she wanted their lives to be as happy and fulfilled aa hers was. And from knowing Ginny, their lives were changed.

"She taught her students the meaning of teammwork because she could see how each person had their own individual gifts and strengths to bring to the team. Each person in her life was respected as an individual."

The two-day tributes began Tuesday night at Givnish Funeral Home in Northeast Philadelphia where some 400 persons showed up for the visitation to offer condolences and to view the many mementos from Doyle's life which were on displayed.

A large portion were then transported here Wednesday morning to offer those who hadn't been to Tuesday's event to view them during the hour of silent prayer that preceded the one-hour Mass.

Some of the newer arrivals among the mourners included Archbishop Ryan players in their uniforms, Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade, George Washington coach Jonathan Tsipis, Saint Francis of Loretto coach Joe Haigh, Saint Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin and her staff, and the assistants of Penn coach Mike McLaughlin, to name just a few among the several hundred mourners at the service here.

As mentioned in Tuesday's report, most of the Richnmond team, along with key athletic department and other university officials, came up by charter bus Tuesday and stayed for Wednesday's ceremony and after-luncheon held nearby at the Buck Hotel.

Richmond has already held a short service soon after the tragedy occurred but will hold a much larger tribute in the fall.

Shortly before the Mass got under way at the end of the prayer hour one of Doyle's nephews, Raymond Doyle III, a recent Temple sports communications graduate who works at NFL Films, delivered the eulogy.

The Doyle family, who have been simply terrific in helping the Guru with coverage for the many who have not been able to come to the tributes here, sent a copy of the eulogy afterwards to spare the Guru the transcription drudgery and enable you to read the full farewell tribute much quicker.

Here it is now to close out today's report.

Eulogy for Ginny Doyle

Good morning and, on behalf of my Grandmother and my family, I thank each and every one of you for being here today. We are grateful to Monsignor Marine and the people of St. Bede the Venerable Parish for their kindness and hospitality, as we come here to celebrate the life of Ginny Doyle in this beautiful Church.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” Since May 9th, so much has been said about Ginny Doyle that it seems she understood these words of Jesus, carved them into her memory and lived her life to the fullest; for my Aunt Ginny bore much fruit throughout her short life.

Ginny went by many names depending on the time in her life or her whereabouts.

Dead-eye Doyle, Little Bit, Gin-toads, Petunia and, her most favored name, Coach Doyle, were names Ginny acquired and was proud to bear.

I wonder if my Aunt Ginny were here today would she recognize the names she received from those who knew her well following the tragic events of May 9th?

Names such as: loyal colleague, best friend, amazing person, caring individual; giving of self with no expectation of payback.

The list of values and attributes she exhibited went on for days: advocate for young people, passionate about her life’s calling, welcoming to everyone, thoughtful, approachable, positive, a mentor, best recruiter, and dedicated Spider.

Ginny could very easily walk into other people’s lives and make a connection that would last for years.

She always gave her time to conversation and when she got to know you, she showed her dry witty sense of humor.

Over the years, many parents of the girls on the team would tell Ginny that she was the reason they were entrusting their daughters to the University.

Her integrity, character and demeanor spoke volumes to them and they wanted that for their daughters for life beyond the basketball court.

As a family, we watched Aunt Ginny so often in her role as coach, recruiter, and advocate for young women, so the words and stories following May 9th didn’t surprise us.

However, as a family, we knew the “other side” of the public persona, so we know that our Aunt Ginny was also very competitive, and spoke her mind.

She was patient to a point and extremely generous; purchasing Phillies season tickets, summer vacations and of course lots of Richmond gear!

Aunt Ginny had great expectations of herself and she continually challenged her abilities to take the next step. She knew the Lord would be there to help her, guide her and provide the grace to excel both on and off the basketball court.

Over her sixteen seasons at the University of Richmond, Ginny developed a real southern persona.

She loved the South, relished country music, and became an even better storyteller than she was before life in Richmond.

Oh, I didn’t tell you Ginny was a great storyteller. She had you feeling like you were right there in the midst of the action.

However, from time to time, her southern side would win out while she was home in Philadelphia and her stories grew longer and longer.

Without mentioning names, certain family members would tell her to speed it up and get to the point! We aren’t as patient in the North!

Aunt Ginny lived life to the fullest. When opportunities came her way, her classic response would be, “Let’s do it!”

From her earliest years, Ginny looked to athletics for fun, competition and adventure.

She begged her brother Ray, my Dad, to teach her how to waterski when she could hardly see over the deck of the boat.

She caught a record size trout when she was on that boat but the men didn’t tell that story to very many people!

Ginny was also a force to be reckoned with as her brother, my Uncle Joe, realized firsthand when they would swim, play tennis or basketball together.

Aunt Ginny excelled at all sports. When Ginny was born, she had to have a blood transfusion so we all thought she must have been given some sort of supped up blood since her energy, enthusiasm and on- the-go spirit was beyond what we could keep up with on many a day.

As a basketball player, my Aunt Ginny was a formidable competitor.

She played high school ball in the prominent Philadelphia Catholic League.

Teammates have said, you always gave the ball to her when she was open; simply put, she made shots!

She surely wasn’t known for passing the ball or her assists!

Aunt Ginny held many records, played for four different head coaches, coached under three head coaches at the University of Richmond which made her the longest tenured assistant in the State of Virginia and I’d be remised, if I didn’t mention her NCAA Division I consecutive free throw shooting record, which she held for 18 years.

She went on to have a ‘friendly’ free throw shooting competition against Billy Packer, for which she received much national acclaim.

But Aunt Ginny was always humble and modest when asked about the contest.

Two families with very different stories were forever impacted on May 9th.

Natalie Lewis was a very close friend of Ginny’s and we can almost guess that their spirits of “Let’s do it” caused them to take the ride that so many others had taken before them with successful experiences.

Neither Ginny nor Natalie would have risked such adventure if they could have, even for a fleeting moment, realized their lives would be over in a flash.

They had too much to live for and they leave families who are now steeped in grief for the loss is almost unbearable.

Today, we come here to celebrate the life of Ginny Doyle.

Our memories will be of a Ginny who was a loving, devoted daughter to her mother Ginny, a strong and fiercely loyal sibling to her sister, Pat and her brothers, Ray and Joe, a doting Aunt to me, Michael and Kelly and held a special place in her heart for her Aunt Mary who has always been Ginny’s biggest fan.

We are all blest to have had the opportunity to be part of her life. She truly touched many lives and her legacy will live on!

I end here as I began proud and honored to have had such a cherished aunt as my Aunt Ginny who heard Jesus’ call throughout her life, “It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”

And Grammy, I think Ginny would tell you that her last call for help was to Jesus and he caught her soul and took her with him to heaven where she is sure to live life to the fullest.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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