back to top

Commonwealth Games Kick Off With Inspirational Opening

Virginia Amateur Sports President Pete Lampman (right) honors games supporters.
Virginia Amateur Sports President Pete Lampman (right) honors games supporters.

A day before some 9,000 athletes descended upon the Roanoke Valley for three days of athletic competition, supporters and sponsors of the Coventry Commonwealth Games convened at Hotel Roanoke for an opening reception. Among the program’s highlights was the debut of a Virginia Amateur Sports “Wall of Fame,” wherein the Roanoke-based organization that runs the annual state games recognized a handful of board members and sports organizers that have helped the Commonwealth Games thrive over the past 20 years.

“Twenty years of excitement, character building and genuine camaraderie,” said VAS Board Chairman John Montgomery.

Despite historic drops in the level of donations and, “not a penny of state funds,” Montgomery said the games soldier on. Key sponsors that have stayed the course were also recognized at the reception.

Former Patrick Henry High School principal Elizabeth Lee and attorney David Paxton, both long time board members, were among the first group of honorees that will have plaques in their honor on display at VAS headquarters in Roanoke. Long time sports organizers Wally Beagle and Tommy Saunders are also members of the new Wall of Fame.

Attendees heard from Kimberly Eakin, owner of the Wine Gourmet shop on Franklin Road, and a former Army sharpshooter. Eakin said she was a “seriously competitive person,” who had that fire stoked early on by entering a shooting contest held at the first Commonwealth Games.

“It sparked a desire to go further,” said Eakin. Going further ultimately meant traveling the country with the Army’s sharpshooting team, teaching marksmanship along the way. The Commonwealth Games said Eakin helped many “hit the bull’s-eye,” by building confidence for other tasks in life.

Keynote speaker Tiffany Roberts, a former World Cup and Olympic gold medalist in soccer, gave a preview of her Opening Night ceremony keynote address at the reception. Now the co-head coach for girls soccer at Virginia Commonwealth University and a three time Parade All-American, Roberts said her journey to Olympic gold with Mia Hamm and company, “was a dream. [But] it’s really not about that gold medal – it’s about the impact that sport has had on my life.”

Soccer made Roberts a “risk taker and confident,” and convinced her that “it’s okay [for a girl] to be tough.” As for events like the Coventry Commonwealth Games, “this is how it all started.”

By Gene Marrano
[email protected]

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Related Articles