Before first game, UR honors coaches killed in hot-air balloon accident

Posted at 6:11 PM, Nov 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-14 18:11:49-05

HENRICO, Va. -- The University of Richmond Women's basketball team played the first game of the season.

It is their first game since losing a coach and an assistant in a hot air balloon crash back in May.

The game, against Providence Friars, began at 4 p.m., with a moment of silence to honor Ginny Doyle and and Natalie Lewis.

family gathers

A video presentation played in honor of the two women, reflecting Natalie's and Ginny's time on campus. The tears of both mothers, watching with the families at center court, brought the crowd to tears as well.

"It's very powerful, and we miss Natalie so much," her mother said in an interview. "Just seeing her accomplishments and her beauty, it's powerful."

"She made our lives better, and just gave us so much," she added, talking about Natalie's love of Richmond and the Spider family. "She was quite a leader in many ways."

"She was a winner in all ways," her dad says, and shared that Natalie was born on the 10th day of the 10th month, weighing in at 10 lbs. -- and so she rightly wore the number 10 jersey.

Both Doyle and Lewis were Richmond alumni.

Doyle spent the last 15 seasons as assistant women’s basketball coach , and most recently associate head coach.

"It was everything to her, it was non-stop," said her brother Joe Doyle, who tried to express just how many memories of his sister are within the Robins Center. "It wasn't a job to her, she just loved doing it."

"Ginny was the center of our lives," he said. "Everyone lived by her basketball, when she played and when she coached."

"We actually feel her presence in the Robins Center," he added. "It doesn't get easier, and we aren't the only ones who think about Ginny every day, the Richmond women's baskeball community does too," Joe said. "The support...has been unbelievable...they are always checking up on us."

Lewis was once captain of the swimming and diving team and had just completed her second season on the women's basketball staff as the director of operations.

The women were killed in May, along with pilot Daniel Kirk, when the hot-air balloon they were riding in struck a power line and caught fire at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, during the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival.

Those power lines in Caroline County did not appear on maps given to balloon pilots prior to the event. The NTSB told CBS 6 that this is the first fatal balloon accident in Virginia history.