Behind the Scenes of UVA Football

My husband and I enjoyed the pictorial “Any Given Saturday” in the Fall 2014 issue, but one element was sorely missing.

That element is the crew of parking attendants who rise early to be on their assigned lots by 7:30 a.m. Some of these brave souls have guarded the team tunnels all night before reporting for parking duties.

With reserved lots that not only surround Scott Stadium but range from Brandon Avenue, McCormick Road to just beyond the bridge, McCormick Road to Slaughter, Observatory Hill and Runk Hall, and Alderman from Midmont Lane to the stadium, the first game-related people patrons see are the folks in the yellow shirts guiding them into their assigned lots and answering questions. These people are just as much a part of game day as any usher or vendor. They are, in a way, the “first responders.”

I am a zone supervisor for a crew of 14 in nine lots, and I can say there have been no patron complaints. Some of them are so popular with the fans in their lots that they are missed should they have to call off.

Game day is much more than painting lines, cheerleader practice and checking on whether Sabre needs to be retrained. There are vendors, gate security, referee transport, cleaning and housekeeping crews, ushers and the poor souls who provide security for the hill.

These are the unsung support behind the scenes for a successful game day, and should have been included in your article.

Deborah Buchanan
Charlottesville, Va.

Crossword Connection

I really enjoyed Mr. Ezersky’s brilliant crossword puzzle [“Puzzle Master,” Fall 2014]. I have constructed crosswords for the New York Times, Games magazine and a number of other places. I’m hoping your readers will enjoy the enclosed puzzle. The long entries symmetrically at 17, 28, 35, 42 and 55 across have a literary flavor and relate to the University.

Randy Sowell (Col ’66)
Madison Heights, Va.

Remembering Watergate

I very much appreciated Gerry Warburg’s remembrance of Washington in the immediate aftermath of Nixon’s resignation. In the summers of 1974 and 1975, I had the opportunity to get to know a few of his “young aides determined to pursue public service by shaping national policy.”

Some of them were at the Supreme Court, serving as law clerks to retired Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark—who was still deciding cases at the U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court levels. Clark had not only opened his Court papers to me but he had also invited me to view the federal courts’ decision making from the vantage points of the fascinating people serving in his chambers.

This relationship led to my being one of the very few persons to be in the courtroom the day Nixon v. United States came down. I hadn’t even asked the justice’s staffers whether I might be able to see it. They simply told me, proactively, that, as their guest political scientist, they wanted to make sure that I got in.

Dennis D. Dorin (Grad ’65, ’74)
Chapel Hill, N.C


Gerry Warburg’s brief retrospective of the aftermath of President Richard M. Nixon’s 1974 resignation optimistically stresses the power of an engaged citizenry to overcome vexing problems. It also highlights the precipitous deterioration of the quality of the Congress as an institution in more recent years. As he noted, while the Congress was “the hero” back then, its approval rating is now 10 percent.

One of those heroes of 1974 was the late former Virginia Rep. M. Caldwell Butler (Law ’50). The headline of the New York Times story of his passing proclaimed: “M. Caldwell Butler, a Key Vote Against Nixon, Dies at 89.”

This piece quotes Caldwell’s July 25, 1974, announcement, from his committee seat, of his intention to vote for impeachment. “For years, we Republicans have campaigned against corruption and misconduct. But Watergate is our shame.”

And it goes on to quote columnist Mary McGrory, who characterized Caldwell’s announcement as “the single most fiery and liberating sentence spoken” during the Watergate deliberations.

As explained in the Times piece, Caldwell’s vote was personally very painful for him at the time and later politically costly.

None of us who knew Caldwell in law school could have been surprised that he would do the right thing, even in the face of personal distress.

Harry L. McNeal Jr. (Law ’52)
York, Pa.

Troublesome Landscaping

At my last reunion I was fortunate enough to attend the lecture on the restoration efforts for the Lawn. Fortunate, yes, but not entirely happy with these efforts, for a hundred yards in any direction, I was aware of a situation designed to reduce the effort required to maintain the splendor of the Lawn.

I am speaking of the almost universal practice of putting black mulch around all of the large trees throughout the UVA Grounds. To my mind this application is akin to the power companies’ application of pesticides and leaving dead zones along our byways. Where this chemical lacing takes there is no chance of seeing columbine, wild asparagus, goldenrod or any number of wild things that flourish in a pesticide-free environment. And make no mistake about it—mulch is a pesticide, smothering the life out of any seed wanting to germinate. As to the Lawn, it would be so much more natural to simply let the grass continue up to the base of the trees.

After hearing from the University architect that Jefferson disliked black, I spoke to him about the deadness of these black shrouds encircling the Lawn’s magnificent oaks. Recovering from the shock that someone would question such a universal practice, he dismissed the issue by informing me that this was a grounds matter, as the mulch allows a groundskeeper to mount his mower, mow acres of grass without ever having to dismount and care for those areas addressed only by hand. I am saddened that so many ignore my concerns, but I am not sanguine that I will change any minds about this mulching practice.

In one last effort to persuade, however, let me quote Jane Austen. In Pride and Prejudice, one of the sisters describes a setting of “considerable eminence ... but without any artificial appearance.” The sister continues: “She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.” It is the natural beauty of the Lawn that I remember so fondly (I lived there for a year) and, to my mind, nothing could be more “awkward” than black necklaces encircling stately oaks. I hope others will begin supporting a Lawn without any artificial appearance.

Walter Skipwith McMann (Col ’58)
Berryville, Va.

A Weight Room for All Wahoos

Great article [“Work Out Like a Wahoo,” Fall 2014] and thank the staff for the tips!

It is unfortunate, though, that “regular” UVA students can only marvel at this weight room through the video. I particularly refer to the lack of any facility on Grounds where students can practice Olympic weightlifting movements like clean and snatch.

It is against the rules in all the gyms, but some people still violate these rules because they really want to practice these great exercises that help develop the body all around. There are no lifting platforms, bumper plates, etc., anywhere—Mem Gym, AFC or North Grounds.

As somebody who enjoys sprinting, I was very happy when the Lannigan track and field facility opened to the public at certain hours of the day. As somebody who loves and appreciates Olympic lifting, I am wondering if a similar policy could be introduced with the McCue Center, or if UVA can properly equip one of the gyms so that we can work out like Wahoos, too.

Paul Vereshchetin (Engr ’17)
Charlottesville, Va.


Associate Athletics Director for Intramural-Recreational Sports Jill Krantz responds:

I appreciate Mr. Vereshchetin’s interest in practicing Olympic weightlifting movements as part of his workout, as this type of lifting within a regular fitness routine can be extremely beneficial. However, understanding that serious, life-altering injuries can occur without proper technique and experience along with comprehensive supervision and coaching, Olympic weightlifting is beyond the expertise of Intramural-Recreational Sports. With more than 850,000 visits annually to the four main IM-Rec Sports facilities, our focus is on offering fitness, wellness  and competitive recreation opportunities for the student body in general, accomplished by providing a variety of equipment and programs for strength and cardiovascular training.

The “Work Out Like a Wahoo” article provides excellent workout tips from the UVA Athletics Strength and Conditioning staff, all of which can be done in IM-Rec Sports facilities.

Superfluous Design?

The article in the Fall 2014 Virginia Magazine titled “Healing with Design” was a silly focus on what must be the most unimportant issue in health care today. Really now, is it “crucial” to allow “patients an opportunity to be exposed to natural light”? What is crucial is to allow patients to be exposed to very good doctors. We seem to be doing all we can to make that as difficult as possible, including spending ridiculous amounts of money on imposing buildings and far too little on training and compensating the physicians who will take good care of us in the future. That, however, is a discussion for another day.

I have the unfortunate need to see two of the best cancer doctors in the world on a regular basis, one at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the other at Yale. In one case, the waiting room and the examining rooms are in the basement, with no windows, no art and what must be 1960s furniture. In the other case, the waiting room is on the third floor of a “bland and sterile looking” building, with no art and lousy furniture. The thought has never occurred to me that my health is suffering from the lack of windows, art or fancy furniture. In fact, my health is what it is today because of good—no, great—doctors. I walk out into the sunlight after each appointment feeling much better than I did when I arrived.

We are faced with the certain prospect that such great doctors will not be here too much longer unless we reorder our priorities.

John Ferguson (Col ’68, Law ’76)
Daufuskie Island, S.C.

You Reddit Here

You don’t know how much your work is appreciated, Alexis [“The Voice of His Generation: Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian fights for a free and open Internet,” Fall 2014]. We use the products you helped build on a daily basis and our life is a little bit better because of them. Thanks for being a model for all of us at UVA.

Jordhy Ledesma Lora (Darden ’12)
New York, N.Y.

For the Birds

What a great piece of research [“Flower Power: How sunflowers can clean up the environment,” Fall 2014]. Do you know yet what happens to the sunflower seed in response to the absorption of the heavy metals? How does this absorption affect the resulting sunflower seed that the bird populations love and ingest?

Nan Boynton
Warwick, N.Y.
Orkney, Scotland


According to UVA assistant professor of biology Benjamin Blackman, plants raised for phytoremediation are not used for birdseed. —Ed.