Interview with Coach Smart – Conclusion

by Katherine Beck
Finally, I wanted to get Coach Smart’s final words on why students should consider VCU.
13. Is there anything else you want us to share with our prospective students about VCU or anything you think they should know when considering VCU in their college plans?
The thing that has impressed me so much about VCU – and I’m a big history guy so I like to look back and see what has happened over the years – is the level of building and how the school has exploded in terms of what the administration has done for the infrastructure of our university. I don’t really see that progress slowing down. I think it’s an exciting time for any student that is considering VCU. When you talk to alumni, they all say how much better and different it is when they were students at VCU. The great thing is that hasn’t stopped, so if someone that is 16, 17, 18 years old is considering VCU, the exciting thing is that if you do come here, then in 4 or 5 years it will be an even better place. Hopefully our team is just a small part of that, but if the men’s basketball team can be a symbol of that, then that’s terrific.
That concludes my talk with Coach Smart. A huge thank you to him for taking the time to talk to me! Make sure to also check out this great video that highlights Coach Smart and the rest of the Black and Gold’s unbelievable run through March Madness.

Interview with Coach Smart – Part Two

by Katherine Beck
As my talk with Coach Smart continued, the conversation steered towards the basketball team and their historic run through the NCAA tournament. Check out the second part of our discussion below:
5. Of course, I have to ask about the basketball tournament and what that experience was like. Looking back, how would you describe the Rams run to the Final Four?
It was a lot of fun. It was a special thing to share with our team and everyone that supported us throughout the year, all of our fans and the players’ families. A lot of hard work goes into a basketball team and a basketball season that not a lot of people see.
They see the games and what’s on TV, but they don’t see all the blood, sweat and tears. So it’s very rewarding as a coach and for the players when you feel like that stuff pays off. That was a great part of us going to the NCAA tournament and advancing as far as we did.
6. I grew up in Richmond and have been here my entire life. I have to say I have never seen the city rally around something the way they did around VCU and the men’s basketball team. What has been your reaction to the RAMnation and the City of Richmond’s support of the basketball program?
I am very humbled. It shows what a special place this is. It has helped me gain an even greater appreciation — and I’m big on appreciation in general — but it has helped me appreciate even more what we have here and the people that are here in Richmond.
There are a lot of expectations for any team that is used to competing at a high level, but I think with what we did we exceeded almost everybody’s expectations and anytime you can do that, it’s a special thing.
7. Speaking to that, how did you rise above all of the doubters and the nay-sayers? How were you able to remain motivated – or did it motivate you?
All the doubters definitely motivated us. It’s easy for me to find motivation — I can find motivation in anything — but it is sometimes different for various players or coaches. As a coach, you have to find ways to reach out to your guys and help them find a reason for pushing themselves past where they think they can go.
8. We all know you are going to continue coaching at VCU and of course we were so excited to hear that news. What helped influence your decision to stay at VCU and continue to call Richmond your home?
I think the appreciation I have for the city and the fact that I like it a lot in Richmond. The people are friendly here. I’m not a big believer in the grass being greener on the other side, and this has been a really enjoyable two years since I got here and I didn’t want that to end.
The other thing is that the players had a lot to do with it. I just couldn’t see going to the Final Four and having the terrific run we had, and then a day later calling a meeting with our players to say that I was going somewhere else. I know that’s how the coaching business works, but it’s not what I wanted to do.
9. What can our new freshman class coming in this fall, as well as the rest of the RAMNation, expect to see from the basketball program in the future?
We just want to keep getting better. We lost four terrific players so we are going to have to make major progress with the guys we have coming back. That’s one of the fun things about college basketball, that every year there are some guys who come back but you lose some key pieces. You can expect for us to work extremely hard, to play together and to play an exciting style of basketball — that’s not going to change. Hopefully, we will continue to put out some high-level results.
I know that our students who have committed to VCU in the fall are excited.
Yeah, I ran into a bunch of accepted students at Block Party, and everyone was saying that they couldn’t wait for the games.
11. We’ve also heard about your invitation to the White House.
Well, I’m not actually going to the White House; I’m going to a dinner that’s down the street from the White House. But I think I get to meet President Obama. Joey (Rodriguez) actually gets to go to the White House for the Cinco de Mayo celebration, so he has one-upped me (laughing). I am going to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and I think I am going to an event beforehand and the President will be there. If I do get to meet him, that’d be terrific.
12. Will you have any questions for President Obama or anything you want to ask?
No, I’m sure he gets asked so many question as it is. I’d love to shake his hand and tell him I’m proud of him and I’ve got his back.
Check back tomorrow for the final part of my talk with Coach Smart!

Interview with Coach Smart – Part One

by Katherine Beck
In the past weeks, VCU’s name has become synonymous with college basketball. Of course we know that the basketball team is amazing, but here in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions we also know that there is so much more beyond basketball that makes VCU an incredible place to be.
That being said, we thought it’d be great to talk to Coach Smart about why he loves VCU and more specifically, why he thinks prospective students should consider VCU in their college plans. Thursday morning I had the opportunity to do just that, as I met with Coach Smart in his office at VCU’s Siegel Center. Check out the first part of my interview with Coach Smart below:
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1. You came to VCU just two years ago after working as an assistant coach at the University of Florida. What was your initial impression of VCU?
I loved the vibe of campus and the feel of so many different types of people that come from a lot of different backgrounds. There is just an energy here that I think is a special thing. When you are like me and you’ve worked at a lot of different schools, you can feel the difference.
2. What influenced your final decision to come to VCU?
The chance to be a head coach at a school like VCU, and the people that were already here at VCU, made it an easy choice.
3. What would be something you would want to share with prospective students about VCU?
One of the first things that I tell basketball recruits is that the more you find out about VCU, the more interested you are going to be. I really believe that. The more people find out about VCU, the more they like, so we encourage them to come and see what we have here — particularly if people can come here during the school day and be around that energy on campus. Or to a basketball game and feel that energy.
4. We work with a lot of students who are not only challenging themselves academically, but are involved in sports or clubs and other activities. As a coach, you are admired for helping the basketball players maintain a balance between their academics and their commitment to the team. What would you say to students about trying to maintain that balance as they enter college?
College is all about prioritization. There are a lot of things you can do in college. You can put all of your work into school and that can work out fine, but you know they say college is the best four years of your life and there are other things to put some time into if you like. I think one of the things about VCU is that there are so many people that do so many different things –whether it’s sports or the band or different clubs or internships off-campus. It’s a huge advantage of being in a city like Richmond, the endless opportunities.
I went to a school in the middle of nowhere, so pretty much anything you were doing was on-campus with the school. At VCU, we are fortunate that there are so many opportunities even beyond the campus.
*Make sure to check back with our blog on Monday for Part Two of my interview with Coach Smart, where we discuss the men’s basketball team’s run to the Final Four!

STRUT Fashion Show

by Felicia Vance, Communications Intern
STRUT, one of the largest fashion shows in Richmond, was held this past weekend and kicked off RVA Fashion Week. For the 7th year, VCU fashion students helped design and style the clothes and looks for the show. STRUT also held model workshops so that any student could have an opportunity to walk the runway and showcase the designs. VCU students became involved in several other ways as well, including a public relations team that helped promote the show.
Student’s involvement in STRUT helped display the unique talents and creativity found within the Richmond Community. Make sure to check out STRUT’s website for more information.

Rams finish NCAA run

Congratulations to the VCU Rams men’s basketball team for making an impressive and historic run in the NCAA’s tournament, and for reaching the Final Four, the first appearance in our school’s history.
And although victory was not to be ours, the “Ram Nation” could not be stronger. School spirit is running high throughout campus and the city of Richmond.
Job well done team!
Watch out for us next year!
Go Rams go!