The Cavalier Daily
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The great Gillen giveaway

W e all recall what happened on Jan. 31. Well, most of us do at least. For those of you who tuned in to "Temptation Island" instead, I'll fill you in. The Virginia men's basketball team claimed a 99-78 victory over Maryland.

And I was there.

Normally, it is incredibly difficult to get tickets for this match up between two rivals from bordering states. Students were turned away at the door and forced to join the group at home watching love and despair on "Island." Needless to say, it looked fairly bleak when I realized I would need not one, but two tickets because my friend from Maryland accompanied me to the game.

Two weeks before the game, I figured I would be tuning into FOX at 9 p.m. on Jan. 31 rather than cheering loudly from my seat in U-Hall.

Then it happened. During lunch at Newcomb one Friday afternoon, my friends and I were greeted by an enthusiastic, red-haired man, bearing basketball posters and game tickets for Saturday's game against Missouri. Once he identified himself as Coach Pete Gillen, I asked where I could possibly order tickets for the Maryland game.

He replied, "Oh, those have long been sold out" and confirmed my fears. Gillen's words were not surprising, but the ones that followed nearly knocked me out of my seat.

He said he wanted as much student support at the games as possible and would like for me to be there. He suggested I call his office and inform the secretary that we had met at Newcomb. He then said I should ask her to reserve two tickets for the Maryland game.

I called my friend and nonchalantly mentioned I was able to work something out with someone named "Coach Gillen," and we would have tickets for the game.

"Coach Gillen? The Coach Gillen?! We are going to the Maryland/U.Va. game, compliments of the head coach," he asked, exasperated. Suddenly, I think I became the coolest girl he knew.

Sure enough, one phone call to the men's basketball office was all it took to get the two tickets. There were no questions asked. Who's to say the honor system is not alive and well at the University?

The game, to say the least, was an incredible display of the Cavaliers' talent on the court that comes from great coaching. As I cheered for the Hoos and completed the spirited chant at the end of the "Good Old Song," I realized it was Coach Gillen's passion for his team and dedication to the student fans that led the team to victory.

It is fairly unusual at most major universities to be sitting in the dining hall and have the head men's basketball coach approach you, seeking your support for a team that is already selling out seats long in advance.

When a coach not only realizes the importance of student support, but also actively seeks it, it can only mean one thing: He knows there is more to his job than perfecting a player's jump shot or organizing a defensive pattern.

It is enthusiasm like this that leads to passion on the court and prompted students to set up tents at U-Hall several days before the Duke game so they could be first in line when the ticket window opened.

(And to all of those avid fans with permanent back injuries from sleeping four consecutive nights on the concrete floor at U-Hall: All you really had to do for tickets was eat pizza at Newcomb Hall on a Friday afternoon. It's all about timing.)

Coach Gillen has made me a far. I would would pick the team over Reality TV any Wednesday night.


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