Foster to retire
Bill Foster, one of college basketball's biggest winners in a 29-year career, will step down as Virginia Tech coach at the end of the 1996-97 season. Foster's top assistant, Bobby Hussey, will succeed him as head coach. Hussey, a former head coach at Belmont Abbey and Davidson College, will be given a four-year contract. Hussey is starting his 26th year as a basketball coach. He won 287 games and had six 20-plus-win seasons in his 18 years as a head coach.
Foster, who has a record of 517 wins and 309 losses, lifted Tech back into the national spotlight over the past five years. In that stretch, Foster's teams won the National Invitation Tournament championship in 1995 and made the NCAA field last winter with a 23-6 record. His overall Tech record heading into the upcoming season is 86-62.
Foster says he heads into retirement with mixed emotions. "You never know when is the right time," he says, "but I believe my time has come."
Foster's last Tech team will emphasize youth with only one returning starter, Ace Custis, in the fold.
Twins team up for volleyball success
by Cassie Arner
"Double your pleasure" is a phrase commonly used in referring to twins--and Virginia Tech fans hope that is what the six-foot Julian sisters from Camden, S.C., bring to the Virginia Tech volleyball team this fall.
Britton and Rachel Julian were two of the most highly recruited players by Tech head coach Stephanie Hawbecker. Both were members of the Southeastern Conference, a league known and respected for its volleyball programs. The Julians passed up offers to attend South Carolina and Mississippi State, among many others. When asked why, the sisters responded, "Once we saw the beautiful campus, we knew Tech was where we wanted to be. Everyone there was so nice, and the volleyball program is definitely on the rise."
And to no one's surprise, the feelings are mutual. According to the coaching staff, the sisters are capable of making an immediate impact on the team. "Rachel and Britton are not going to redshirt. They want to play, and they feel ready to make the adjustment," Hawbecker says.
"The biggest challenge will be adjusting to a different level of competition. But we are excited about the task and really don't think that we will have a problem," Rachel says.
The incoming freshmen came to Tech from Camden High School (S.C.), where they both played varsity volleyball since seventh-grade. With six years of high-school and club experience behind them, they have perfected the art of playing together.
"Our club coach believed that we had a sixth sense on the court. He would let us call our own plays because we knew each other's actions so well," Britton says.
Because of the cohesiveness that has bonded the two on and off the court, Britton and Rachel became a package deal during recruiting. "We never thought about splitting up. We wouldn't work the same without each other. We motivate each other," the Julians say.
They are a package deal on the court as well. One's weakness is the other's strength. Throughout their high school years, the sisters took turns winning various accolades. Beginning in 1992, their freshman year in high school, the awards started pouring in. Rachel was named the Region 4-AAA Player of the Year, only to be succeeded by Britton in 1993, who also received CAWS 3A Player of the Year. As history often repeats, Rachel won both awards in 1994 and Britton again in 1995.
In February 1996, Rachel received one of the highest awards given to a high school player when she was named South Carolina's Gatorade Player of the Year. But not far from the limelight was Britton, who was the award's runner-up. The two led Camden High School to three consecutive 3A state titles and a six-year composite record of 148-23 (.865 winning percentage).
With the 1996 volleyball season approaching, Hokie fans have reason to be excited about the arrival of the Julian twins. Both bring ability, talent and desire needed to become successful collegiate players. Hawbecker believes they will develop into future Tech leaders on and off the court.
But when asked which one is the leader in the family, the sisters answer in unison, "Rachel. She was born first."
Cassie Arner is assistant director of sports information
Track teams ready for competition
by Latoya French
The university's new track facilities are now open, and the men's and women's track teams are anticipating their first competitions with growing excitement. "The portable indoor track will be as good as any in the world, which means our competition will be tougher, and, in turn, we have to be that much better as a team," says men's head coach Russ Whitenack.
Competition for indoor track begins in January; outdoor meets begin in March. Both the men's and women's teams have been preparing for a tough season. The teams will combine a host of talented veterans with ambitious newcomers for what the coaches say they hope will be one of Tech's most successful seasons.
Since 1995-96, a big recruiting year for the women's team, it has almost doubled in size. According to head coach Lori Taylor, the team has added "athletes with potential to take the program to another level." Six of Virginia's top athletes and several out-of-state contenders committed to the team. These athletes will join veterans Paula Allan and Katie Ollendick in raising the team's level of competitiveness.
Last season, the star veterans each set new school records for several events. Sophomore Allan ended her first Hokie season by setting new school records in both the shot put and discus events. Senior Ollendick, too, had her share of new records. Along with racking up top scores in the indoor and outdoor events, Ollendick set a new school record in the pentathalon and in the high jump.
The men's team is looking to their veterans to lead the way. Seinors Justin Davis, Jason Fullmer, and Hilliard Sumner are among the men's top athletes. These "stand-up athletes" have set new school records and placed in the top ranks of the Metro Conference Championships.
Both Davis and Fullmer set new records in the 1995-96 season. Davis set a record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 52.01 and took the top score in the 800. Fullmer took first place in the 55 hurdles and the 60 hurdles. He also set a new school record in the 110/100 hurdles, with 14.31.
Sumner is expected to concentrate on qualifying for national competition this season. During his career at Tech he has set new school records in the 200 and 400 meter dashes as well as a former Metro Conference record in the 400.
"Hilliard is an extremely talented athlete. In the past we've used him in several events, but this year we will give him the opportunity to focus on one event to qualify for nationals," says Whitenack.
Latoya French is a student assistant in the Virginia Tech Sports Information Office.
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