UR athletes reflect on air balloon crash victims

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - For the first time, members of the University of Richmond Athletic Department who knew coach Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis best are speaking out.

They say these deaths have brought two teams even closer. Lewis was a standout swimmer at the university, so both the women's basketball and swim teams are leaning on each other for comfort.

With a staff of six, a third of the Spider's women's basketball team is now gone.

"It's been tough," said Becca Wann. Wann played on the team all four years, and said Coach Doyle  was the backbone of the team.

"She was definitely tough," Wann said. "She knows basketball probably more than anybody I know. With Coach Doyle you can't replace her."

Wann became close friends with Lewis, who had written Wann a graduation card before she died.  "She said I had impacted her in ways I wouldn't know and little did she know I would be reading it and thinking about the same thing about her," says Wann.

Their closest friends say they don't want to think about the final moments, except for this: "I am a little bit comforted that they were together because I do know that they loved each other very much," says Katie Siben. Siben and Lewis were on the Spider's swim team together.

"She found joy in what other people see as ordinary things in every day," said Siben. "We find comfort in knowing that she lived so much."

A Time of Remembrance in memory of Doyle and Lewis will be held on campus Wednesday morning at the Cannon Memorial Chapel at 10 a.m.  Everyone is invited to attend.

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