Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
More Than a Number

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
by Brad Collignon, Sports Media Relations

Some athletes choose their uniform number because of a childhood idol.  Others choose it for cryptic, personal reasons.  Cole Webb is on the short list of those who fall into both categories.

In November of 2007, a 15-year-old Cole was unwinding on the couch, watching television with his father after a Union High School football game when the phone rang.  It was The Call No Parent Ever Wants to Get.  Cole’s father, Byrne, and his family were urged to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.  Cole’s brother, Casey Jones, had been involved in an accident.

Casey had a reputation as a thrill-seeker, so the family remained anxiously calm as he had before been involved in a motorcycle accident.  

Just a couple hours before the call, Kimberly Graham had guzzled down a six pack, two shots, and a mixed drink, then hopped into her SUV and barreled down Memorial Drive, the main drag where most of the bars are situated in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Casey and four friends were helping a fallen motorcyclist on the side of the road when she plowed her vehicle through the crowd of Good Samaritans. 

Graham fled the scene.  Casey was the lone member of the five struck to make it to the hospital.  The injuries sustained proved too severe and the 29-year-old passed away shortly after he arrived to the emergency room.

The harsh reality didn’t set in until doctors told the Webb family that they would be going to the “visitation room” to see Casey.  Only three people were allowed back in the visitation room, and when his mother, Roberta, his sister, and her friend hysterically returned to the waiting room, the shock ensued.

With the passing of a brother and a son, so went a best friend.  Despite an age difference that in some families can cause friction between brothers, Cole, brother Chase (then 17), and Casey were an inseparable trio.  The three did what brothers do: played football, baseball, and engaged in occasional mischief.

“Casey was a strong role model for me growing up,” Cole said.

An online memory book is abundant with tributes and anecdotes of a fun-loving guy who made friends at every turn of life, including a fiancé, Krissi.

It’s a story that rings all too familiar with the Valpo baseball family. 

In November 2011, Maria Dann, then ex-wife of head coach Tracy Woodson, was killed in a lunchtime drunk-driving accident in Oxford, North Carolina.  Dann, a teacher, had just left an elementary school where she worked when a 35-year old nurse crossed the center line, causing a head-on collision.  Her death left Tracy’s son (and Valpo assistant men’s tennis coach), Michael, without a mother.

Three months later, shock waves reverberated throughout the Chicagoland area when news broke that a grade-school teacher was fatally stabbed in a Naperville bar.  The victim was later identified as Shaun Wild, brother of Kevin, a pitcher for the Crusaders.  Wild was acting as peacemaker during a skirmish inside Frankie’s Blue Room when Daniel Olaska senselessly pulled out a knife, pierced Shaun in the heart and wounded two others.

With support from the tight-knit communities of Brown Deer, Wisconsin and the Valparaiso baseball family, Shaun’s family has remained extraordinarily strong throughout the devastating ordeal.  Kevin dedicated the season to his brother the best way he could – by earning the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year Award in 2012, one year after a season in which he went 2-2 with a 5.64 earned-run average.

No numbers are more important to Cole Webb than nine, though.  (9C to be exact.)  It’s the number Casey had painted on the side of the car he drove in sprint races.

While it’s said that time heals all wounds, some never completely heal, but scar, rather, leaving a legacy that will endure. 

“Obviously we (Casey’s family) think about it every day.  You still mourn it.  But we also celebrate his life,” Webb said.

Kimberly Graham was found guilty on five charges of first-degree manslaughter and one count of fleeing the scene of a crime.  She was sentenced to 107 years in prison.

Chase Webb completed his undergraduate degree last year at Creighton while playing baseball and is now enrolled in law school there.

Cole went on to earn a scholarship to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.  The righty went 13-6 with a 3.84 ERA in his two seasons as a Red Raven, netting him another scholarship to Valpo.

Saturday, February 16th, he stepped on the hill for the first time as a Crusader.  Webb, who has quickly established himself as one of the wittier, more gregarious personalities on the club, was dominant in his debut.  With pinpoint command to accompany a cutter and changeup, the junior allowed just two Ohio Bobcats to reach base over eight swift, shutout innings in Valpo’s 1-0 victory.

For an encore, he limited a nationally decorated Long Beach State team to three runs on five hits and a walk over seven innings in a tough-luck 3-2 loss this past Saturday.

Though early, it appears the Crusaders have found a torch carrier for Wild, the safe bet on many Saturdays last spring and a young man pitching for someone more than himself.  Because when he takes the mound donning the number 9, it means so much more to Cole Webb than anything Ted Williams or Reggie Jackson ever accomplished.  It represents Casey Jones: brother, best friend, and role model.

M Track DePauw Invitational Greencastle, Ind.
Apr 5 9th/11 (28.33)
W Track DePauw Invitational Greencastle, Ind.
Apr 5 8th/10 (29)
W Track Stanford Invitational Stanford, Calif.
Apr 5 No Team Score
M Track Stanford Invitational Stanford, Calif.
Apr 5 No Team Score
Baseball Wright State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 5 Valpo 3
Softball Detroit 0 VU Softball Field
Apr 5 Valpo 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Green Bay, Wis.
Apr 5 Green Bay 6
Baseball Wright State 0 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 5 Valpo 2
Softball Detroit 0 VU Softball Field
Apr 5 Valpo 9
W Tennis Valpo 5 Green Bay, Wis.
Apr 5 Green Bay 2
W Golf IPFW Spring Invitational Fort Wayne, Ind. (Chestnut Hills G.C.)
Apr 6 4th/12 (311)
W Tennis Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 6 Milwaukee 7
Softball Detroit 0 VU Softball Field
Apr 6 Valpo 8
Baseball Wright State 4 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 6 Valpo 2
W Golf IPFW Spring Invitational Fort Wayne, Ind. (Chestnut Hills G.C.)
Apr 7 9th/12 (642)
Softball Northern Illinois 6 VU Softball Field
Apr 8 Valpo 8
Baseball Valpo 5 Evanston, Ill.
Apr 8 Northwestern 12
Softball Northern Illinois 3 8 inn.
Apr 8 Valpo 4
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17, 3:00 p.m. Milwaukee
M Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 11:00 a.m. Valpo
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 18, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18, 3:00 p.m. Milwaukee
W Tennis Youngstown State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Valpo Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19, 1:00 p.m. Milwaukee
Softball Oakland VU Softball Field
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Cleveland State Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19, 2:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 5:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo