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Hall In

Feb. 11, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

– During a baseball weekend ast March, the last thing on Georgia Tech head baseball coach Danny Hall’s mind was making life easier for Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter.

In fact, Hall and his squad were quite rude, sweeping the visiting Demon Deacons, beating them 9-1, 15-8 and 6-5, coming back from an 8-1 deficit on Saturday and 4-0 and 5-2 holes on Sunday.

That was competition, however. In that context being ruthless is okay, even expected.

Hall showed his true colors and a very human side off the field on Monday afternoon. It was hours after the story broke of Walter donating a kidney to save the life one of his players, 19-year-old outfielder Kevin Jordan, who was in need of a transplant. Coach Hall didn’t know Walter well and didn’t know Jordan at all, but he knew he wanted to do something to show he cared.

“I had heard about this last week and saw like everybody, what had happened,” Hall recalled. “I just texted him and said, ‘Hope you’re feeling okay. If you need anything while you’re here, I don’t know what I can do, but if there is something that you need, I would be more than willing to help.’ Then I said, ‘Courageous act what you did.’ I don’t know if words can describe what he did, to be quite honest.”

Hall’s words on that particular day may well have been lost in the barrage of texts and e-mails Walter received, but the sincerity behind the gesture in support of his colleague shouldn’t be. That need to get involved and help in whatever way he could speaks to Hall.

It’s putting the “Man” in Manager and shows that in the big picture, it’s the 362 other days of the year that matter more than the three he and Walter will battle wits from opposing dugouts.

Hall actually had respect for Walter long before Monday.

“Obviously, he’s a great coach,” he said. “I knew him way back when he was coaching at George Washington (1997 through 2005) and also coached in Cape Cod (1997 and ’98 with the Cotuit Kettleers. Then he went to New Orleans and has been a Wake for two years.

“It just shows he’s a leader,” he added. “He’d definitely been through adversity in New Orleans, with Katrina and then them just dropping their program from Division I to Division III. He, obviously, is a leader and deals with adversity well.”

As Hall relayed in his text, Walter’s courage in a decision the 42-year-old Wake Coach called “a no-brainer,” stood out. Choosing to donate a kidney is a personal decision and, in a life-and-death situation leaves little time to do anything more than react. It’s not a situation that arises often. Hall could think of only one in his entire 18 seasons at Georgia Tech.

“The only thing I think I can compare it to, is when we had a player, Michael Hutts, die right in the middle of the [2008] season,” he said. “I said it then. There’s nothing in coaching journals or in higher education that prepares you for anything like that. Nobody died in this situation but obviously, if Kevin Jordan doesn’t get a kidney then he could have died. You have one guy wiling to make a big sacrifice to save one of his players’ lives.”

The Yellow Jackets travel to Winston Salem to play the Demon Deacons the weekend of April 15-17. It was already going to be a weekend of mixed emotions for the Jackets, as it marked Tech first-year Volunteer Assistant Coach Rick Rembielak’s, returns to the school he managed from 2004-2009 — he was Walter’s predecessor. That weekend now has an added emotional level to it as Hall will get the chance to talk face-to-face with Walter.

“Definitely. I give him all the credit,” he said. “Just the timing of it, his season, like ours, opens Feb. 18 (Tech hosts Kent State, while Wake travels to Baton Rouge to play LSU). He’s definitely not going to be at 100 percent and so to me, just echoes what he was willing to do to help Kevin out.”

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