News With Commentary by TSL Staff
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Hokies Announce Hiring of Dunkenberger
As expected, Virginia Tech announced the hiring of Beth Dunkenberger as the new head women's basketball coach, in a press conference held at 3 p.m. at the school. In her comments, Dunkenberger highlighted hard work and recruiting as the cornerstones that will improve upon the women's program that former coach Bonnie Henrickson built.
Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver, In his opening comments, noted that Dunkenberger, in her nine years as a Virginia Tech assistant (1988-1997), recruited four of the six top scorers in Virginia Tech history (Weaver did not name the players, but they are assumed to be Tere Williams [1997-2001], Jenny Root [1991-95], Christi Osborne [1991-95], and Amy Wetzel [1996-2001]).
Dunkenberger left VT to serve as an assistant at Florida for three years (1997-2000), then took over the head reigns at a WCU program that hadn't had a winning season since 1982-83. She led WCU to records of 13-15, 17-11, 21-7, and 14-17 in her four years there, for an overall record of 65-50.
"It is so good to be home," Dunkenberger said. "Click your heels three times, open your eyes, and here I am." Dunkenberger, a native of nearby Shawsville, joked, "There was a rumor floating around that we just wanted to help attendance, so you brought me back because you knew Shawsville would show up at the games."
She said, "I have a pride and a love for this school that goes so deep. It such an honor for you to bring me back."
Dunkenberger noted Virginia Tech's 1994 Metro Conference tournament championship and 1995 Metro Conference regular season championship that occurred during her time as an assistant at VT and said, "I'd like to think I had a part in helping our team rise to that level."
Dunkenberger coached at VT under head coach Carol Alfano and at Florida under Carol Ross, and she said, "I like to consider my style a play a merging of the two, from a more methodical style of play to a fast-pace tempo. You'll see a mix of that. I like to get up and down the floor. I think our team is anxious to get up and down the floor and run a little bit. So that's the style of play you can anticipate from us."
After WCU went 17-10 in 1982-83, in the next 17 seasons prior to Dunkenberger's arrival, they averaged just 8.8 wins per year, including seven straight seasons in which they failed to register double-digit wins. Dunkenberger's teams averaged over 16 wins in her four years.
"While at Western Carolina, we managed to take a team that was literally a cellar-dwellar, that had suffered through 19 consecutive losing seasons [sic], and turned it around. [We] managed to win 17 games one year, 21 the next. We're very proud of that group, and it's with a heavy heart that we leave so many people that we love back there."
Dunkenberger introduced her staff, comprised of the three assistants who served under her at WCU. They are:
Dunkenberger expressed admiration for Bonnie Henrickson's accomplishments at VT, saying, "My mother always told me to leave things better than they were when you got there, and that's what Bonnie did. She has left an incredible legacy and an incredible program ... I'm so thankful that we have the team in place that we do."
On ACC membership, Dunkenberger said, "I've been waiting my whole life for Virginia Tech to join the ACC. It makes sense. When you think of great basketball, you think of the ACC."
Dunkenberger said that she has stayed in touch with Henrickson since their time together at Virginia Tech, and she says that she is very familiar with the Tech program. "When I sat down to talk with Mr. Weaver, I didn't have a whole lot of questions, because I'm so familiar with how things are done [at Virginia Tech]."
She expressed plans to build on what Henrickson has accomplished. "What I'd like to think, though, is that the best is yet to come. We have such an exciting future ahead of us. We'll do it first and foremost through recruiting. We need to continue to bring great players in. The state of Virginia has got to be a priority for us. We want the best players in the state to stay in state, to lead Virginia Tech to the top of the ACC.
"We'll do it with hard work. We'll do it with integrity. We'll do it with pride. We'll do things the right way. We'll do it with discipline, and in the end, it's going to be a whole lot of fun. Get ready for a great ride."
No details of Dunkenberger's contract were given at the press conference. Her original contract at WCU was for $65,000 a year, and she had signed a two-year extension that was to keep her at the school through 2005-06 (terms unknown).
For more on Dunkenberger's accomplishments, see yesterday's News and Notes update.