Roanoke's 'Gaeng' pulls together
Hail, hail, the Gaengs are all here ... or at least a good portion of them.
Brian Gaeng '79 played for the 1978 NCAA National Championship lacrosse team at Roanoke College.
After graduating in 1979, he only made it back to the campus once in the ensuing 25 years, returning for the 25th anniversary of the championship in 2003. Since then, however, he's made up for lost time.
Three members of the Gaeng family were students at Roanoke College last year, and all three played on Maroon sports teams. Son Drew Gaeng '09 was a senior standout on the basketball team; Derek Gaeng '10, or "Deke" as he's known, was a junior on the team, and daughter Paige Gaeng '11 was a sophomore, who played on both the women's soccer and basketball teams.
"I've been down there at least 20 times this school year," said Brian, an economics major and now a bank president who lives in Frederick, Md., with his wife, Roxie, and their youngest of six children, Gail. "I've only missed five or six games. Sometimes I leave right after work, drive to the game and get back home by about 12:30."
Deke, who is two years younger than Drew, was the first to decide to follow dad to RC. Drew went to Division I Mt. St. Mary's University, just 30 minutes from the Gaengs' home, for two varsity seasons but transferred to RC the same time as his brother was coming in as a freshman.
"There I was, bringing two boys to Roanoke College at the same time," said Brian. "It's a great place. It's changed a little since I went there, with the new buildings and facilities, but it's still the same place I remember."
The boys have enjoyed being on the same team, and rarely a day goes by where they don't see each other.
"It was really cool to be on the same team," said Drew. "I don't regret coming here for one minute."
During the week of commencement, Drew was awarded the College's 2009 Murphy Award in honor for overcoming obstacles and becoming an athlete. A favorite of the fans, Drew was known for his hustle and spirit on the floor. RC athletic director Scott Allison '79, who was with Brian on the '78 championship team, sees some of the dad in the son.
"Brian worked as hard if not harder than any of us," Allison says. "We hated going against him in practice because you knew he was going to give you all he had.
Basketball coach Page Moir benefited from that Gaeng tradition.
"Drew was one of my favorite players of all time. He brought a lot to the team and to the College," Moir said.
And he wasn't just talking about family.