Saturday, March 18, 2000
by James Arthur, HokieCentral.com
Ookie's Excellent Adventure, Part 2
This report is the second of a three-part series covering The City of Newport News' special salute to Michael Vick during the weekend of March 17th and 18th.
Newport News, VA - The City of Newport News rolled out the red carpet treatment last night for their hometown hero, Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick. Vick was the guest of honor at a special recognition dinner at the Omni Hotel sponsored and organized by the City of Newport News Parks and Recreation Department, Newport News School System, and the Peninsula Sports Club.
Over 350 people packed the Omni Hotel's main banquet room to recognize the achievements of Vick. Scott Cash, Sports Anchor for WVEC-TV 13 in Norfolk, emceed the event. Cash also did his 6 p.m. sports report live from the hotel earlier in the evening, and took the opportunity to interview Vick and Coach Frank Beamer for the broadcast.
In attendance were members of Newport News City Council, Newport News School Board, Warwick High School Head Coach Tommy Reamon, Newport News Mayor Joe Frank, Newport News School Board Chairperson Mary Oder, as well as family, friends, former teachers, and former and present high school teammates of Vick. Additionally, multiple local government officials and state Delegates and Congressmen were there to recognize Vick's achievements.
Mayor Frank opened the presentations with a few comments about the guest of honor.
Coach Tommy Reamon, Vick's mentor and former high school football coach, then was called on to introduce the guest speaker for the evening, Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer. Before Reamon called Beamer to the podium, he spoke in depth about the development of Vick as a person, as well as the relationship that was developed with the Virginia Tech coaching staff during Vick's recruitment.
"I'm very fortunate that Michael's parents, Michael and Brenda, have allowed me to guide and develop Michael, in a sense, within the Newport News public school system guidelines as a teacher. It gave me the opportunity to do what all teachers are supposed to do: to touch lives. Michael is an example of many teachers touching someone's life." Reamon said. "The people that have touched him mean a lot to him, and it means a lot to us."
"One of the things that happened with Michael was his support cast. Michael had the supporting cast of teachers and family, all working together to deliver him. Michael has a wonderful family. My first experience with that family support cast was when I called a meeting because I kept hearing a lot of college names being tossed around, and people speaking out about what schools they liked, and where Michael should go to school. Fourteen people showed up at the Vick household for this meeting. That's the kind of support cast I'm talking about."
Reamon continued, "Then, we had to determine if the people who were recruiting Michael, and the people that were going to get their hands on him, were going to provide him with the same support cast that we gave him. That's personal, and that's deep, and that's what teachers and teaching is all about."
"Professionally, Virginia Tech did an excellent recruiting job (while recruiting Vick). Coach Beamer put the time in professionally. Coach Cavanaugh did an extraordinary job as his recruiting coach. In making the decision to pick Virginia Tech, there were also verbal agreements. This is called professional courtesy. An agreement was made that Michael would not play his freshman year at Virginia Tech. We all felt that he needed time for adjustment, to see what 'big time' was about. Virginia Tech went through some tough times that year (Vick's freshman year), and for Coach Beamer to stick to his word and not play Michael Vick, I gave him, and I give him, the utmost respect as a man."
Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer was then called upon for his thoughts on Vick. "Many coaches ask me 'what's the best thing about Michael Vick? Is it how fast he can run, or how quick he is? Or is it his great release, or how far he can throw the ball, or how accurately he can throw the ball?' Well I told them that I think the very best thing about him is you like Michael Vick. And I'll bet you all the money in the world that Michael Vick will be the same guy next year, or in two years, that he is right now. He won't change, because he's got those kinds of values, and that's kind of the person he is." Beamer said.
"I look forward to the next few years (with Michael) at Virginia Tech. Winning is the name of the business. That's what it's all about. But when you're winning with great people, it's a lot more fun."
A 15 minute highlight video presentation of Vick's football career was shown. HokieCentral.com would like to recognize the City of Newport News School System for putting together this outstanding video. It featured numerous clips of Vick's football career to date, as well as heartfelt interviews with Coach Reamon and Vick's mother, Mrs. Brenda Boddie about Vick's life and development.
Cash introduced Michael Vick as the guest of honor. Vick was gracious and honored, and thanked his family, his coaches, his teachers, and friends, for helping him to become the person he is today.
Mayor Frank, Chairperson Oder, Delegate Alan Diamondstein, and Congressman Robert Scott, all presented Vick with framed "resolutions" made by the City of Newport News City Council, the City of Newport News School Board, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The entire evening's festivities were filmed and broadcast live on Newport News Public Television. HokieCentral.com would also like to recognize the staff of Newport News Public Television on their professionalism in their presentation of the event for public broadcast.
Cash wrapped up the evening by thanking everyone in attendance for their support of the event.