UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. -- The University of Richmond community extends its prayers and thoughts to the families of two members of the women’s basketball staff who were aboard a balloon that crashed May 9 in Caroline County, Va.
Ginny Doyle, associate head women’s basketball coach, and Natalie Lewis, director of basketball operations, were on the balloon that crashed shortly before 8 p.m. Virginia State Police have recovered two of the balloon’s three occupants. Official identification is pending from the Medical Examiner’s Office.
"As alumnae, classmates, and colleagues – and as invaluable and devoted mentors for our student-athletes – Ginny and Natalie have been beloved members of our community,” said President Edward L. Ayers. “Their leadership and friendship will endure in the lives of so many.”
“Words cannot begin to express our sorrow,” said Keith Gill, director of athletics. “We are all stunned by the tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones.”
Doyle, a former Richmond basketball standout who graduated in 1992, has served on the Spiders’ staff for 16 years. During her tenure at Richmond, she helped guide the Spiders to nine winning seasons, an at-large berth to the 2005 NCAA Tournament, five consecutive postseason appearances and a first-ever appearance in the Atlantic 10 Championship final in 2009.
As a student-athlete, Doyle was a two-time all-conference player, leading the Spiders to the 1991 CAA Championship and NCAA Tournament. She is the program’s career leader in free throw percentage and set the NCAA Division I record for consecutive free throws made with 66, a mark that stood for 18 years.
Lewis graduated from Richmond in 2011 and began her professional career with Spider Athletics in 2012. She has been with the women’s basketball program for the past two seasons. As an undergraduate, Lewis was a championship swimmer and four-year varsity letter winner at Richmond, serving twice as team captain. She was on three Atlantic 10 swimming championship teams. She also was a student government cabinet member and graduated as a Spider Scholar Athlete.
The university has arranged access to counselors to assist faculty, staff and students following this tragic accident.