Ginny Doyle will always hold a special place in the heart of Fordham women’s basketball Coach Stephanie Gaitley. That’s why Gaitley is trying to honor Doyle’s spirit within the sport after her death.
The 44-year-old Doyle played for Gaitley at the University of Richmond and was the associate head coach at the school. She died in a tragic hot air balloon accident in early May along with the balloon’s pilot and the Spiders’ director of basketball operations, 24-year-old Natalie Lewis.
To remember her, Gaitley dedicated her annual Chalk Talk coaches’ clinic to Doyle. The June 20 event raised $500, with the suggested donation being $25, to give to the Ginny Doyle Memorial Fund and the University of Richmond Spider Club, which raises money for the school’s athletic programs.
“I wanted her family to know she is always going to be alive,” Gaitley said. “She is always going to be with me.”
More than two-dozen coaches from all levels of the sport attended the event, and the number was double the usual turnout, according to Gaitley. She felt the cause encouraged more people to take the time to be there. Those who made the trip to Rose Hill listened to Gaitley, Fordham men’s basketball Coach Tom Pecora, St. John’s women’s Coach Joe Tartamella and Fairleigh Dickinson men’s Head Man Greg Herenda explain numerous drills, which attendees could use to train their own teams. The program proved to be beneficial, according to those taking it all in.
“The speakers were good and everyone seemed attentive,” Murry Bergtraum girl’s basketball Assistant and Yung & Tha Restless travel ball Coach Curtiz Simpson said. “There was a nice amount of coaches here — Division I, Division II, Division III, junior college — so it was very successful.”
Gaitley, who led Fordham to its first Atlantic-10 title this season, said she would continue raise funds for Doyles’ charity from now on. Bracelets with the names of Doyle, Lewis and former St. Bonaventure Sports Information Director Brian Moretti were also given out. Moretti died after he went into sudden cardiac arrest in early March. Gaitley also plans on naming one of her offensive plays after Doyle to honor her abilities as prolific shooter.
Doyle once made 66 consecutive free throws over her junior and senior seasons. She went on to beat college hoops analyst Billy Packer in a free throw shooting contest with a men’s basketball after Packer commented it was easier to shoot with the smaller women’s ball. Doyle made all of her 20 shots. Packer went 12-for-18.
“She had a great sense of humor, a big story teller,” Gaitley said. “She loved to shoot the ball.”
The Rams coach closed the clinic by thanking those who came out for helping a great cause. She also made sure to stress the importance of getting the most from life, saying that Doyle’s death and others like it should remind everyone about how precious life is.
“Life is such a gift, and you just have to enjoy every day,” Gaitley said. “That was kind of the point of today — enjoy it. As you get older and you see all these tragedies happen, it makes you realize that every day is really a good day.”