Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why No Grid Team at Roanoke College?

I sat down with Mike Maxey, president of Roanoke College, for the first time yesterday for a conversation. I have no idea at all why that even though he has been there 12 years our paths have not before crossed for more than a "hello." I wish we'd gotten together years ago. He's a truly good guy, one I like a lot.

I'm doing a story about Roanoke College and the conversation was wide-ranging, touching eventually on sports. We told a bunch of tall tales from the past (he's been there 35 years) and I finally asked him--as so many do, "Why don't you have a football team at Roanoke."

"That," he said, "is the second most asked question I get. The other is 'Why is it named Roanoke College when it's in Salem?' The truth is that we'd probably have a football team if we could find a generous donor out there."

Generous, says Mike, is about $3 million and would cover--primarily--salaries and equipment. The college has a stadium (and could probably use Salem Stadium if a game were big enough: 10,000 seats as opposed to about 2,500 of its own).

Mike Maxey of Roanoke College
Scheduling would be easy. Roanoke is already in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and most of its schools have football teams already. In addition, schools like Shenandoah University and Ferrum College are less than 50 miles away each. Of course, Roanoke sits dead center in a football hotbed in Salem.

Roanoke had a football team for a long time (my dad, who played at Virginia Tech, played against the Maroons twice). Roanoke played its final game in 1942 (a 42-0 loss to Catawba College) after fielding a team for 60 years. World War II was blamed for the disbanding.

Virginia Tech's orange and maroon colors were first worn in 1896 in a game against Roanoke (colors had been black and gray). I can't find a record of it, but Roanoke history department head Mark Miller told me Roanoke actually beat Tech "once or twice." His wife, Linda, who is the college archivist, nodded agreement.

In any case, if Roanoke fields a team in the future, I can guarantee at least one fan I know will be in the stands: me.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, will be in the stands Dan. BTW, Shenandoah University is in Winchester about 180 miles away. I wish it was only 50 miles away--that's my hometown.