Letter From the Editor: Keeping On
by Will Stewart
TSL Extra, Issue #11

Dear Readers:

This issue is a little late, arriving on the 19th of the month. I usually prefer to have the TSL Extra out on the 16th or 17th of the month, sometimes the 18th.

But the fact that it got out when it did is nothing short of amazing. For a long time after the World Trade Centers were destroyed and the Pentagon wrecked on September 11, I didn't want to work. It's hard to care about football when thousands of people are dying, and your country is facing a protracted, nasty war against terrorism.

After the attacks, as I sat in the solitude of my basement office and contemplated working on the TSL Extra, it was hard to get moving. What finally got me going was a long phone call I had during lunch on Thursday the 13th of September with Highland Springs football coach Scott Burton. We talked for 45 minutes about one of his star players, Noland Burchette, a recent VT verbal. And afterwards, I got the chance to talk to Noland for a few minutes.

The story they relayed to me is one of the more interesting recruiting stories I've ever heard. I've encountered high school football coaches who are mentors to their players and help shape their lives, but the relationship between Burton and Burchette is something truly special. Each of them owes the other quite a bit.

Noland Burchette's story is a story of human triumph, of an aimless young man who made something of himself, with the help of his coach. In the midst of all the despair and suffering associated with the terrorist attacks, it was the opportunity to put Noland Burchette's story into words that got me working again. I hope that as you read his tale (which is admittedly long) that you, too, derive a sense of hope and purpose again, if you're still struggling with what's going on in the world around us.

In other articles, we profile Keith Burnell, who must now play the role of lead tailback for the Hokies, in the wake of Lee Suggs' season-ending knee injury. We also dedicate not one but two articles to the sad story of Camm Jackson, a 1997 football recruit whose story is not one of triumph, but of a promising life gone awry. Fortunately for Camm, there's still time to get things turned around.

Lastly, we've got a profile of Pulaski County High School football player Alan Wheeling, who is not a VT football recruit, and probably won't be but would dearly love to be. And in "Inside the Numbers," we pit the 1995 Hokie defense against the 1999 Hokie defense and see who comes out on top. Comparing statistics is not as fun as watching Cornell Brown and Corey Moore duke it out in a dark alley would be, but it's fun, nonetheless.

Carry on, Hokies, and always keep those who suffered great losses in the terrorist attacks in your minds, hearts, and prayers.

Enjoy issue #11.

 

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