LEXINGTON, Va. – VMI Athletic Communications sat down with men’s and women’s rifle head coach Bill Bither to discuss his outlook for the 2017-18 season set to begin this Saturday at Kilbourne Hall against rival The Citadel. Below are his responses:
What are your overall thoughts on this upcoming season?
I thought we finished great last season. It was great to be back in the Southern Conference and I am very proud of our team’s second-place finish at the championship. I’m very optimistic about this season. We lost some people to graduation – the air rifle champion from our team is now in the United States Army as a military police officer. We had a really good tryout program this year. Over 30 rats came down to try out for the team; we had never had that many before. We ended up with five walk-ons and two that came in with letters of intent that had significant high school experience. We’re excited for The Citadel to come in this Saturday. Our team is improving and we’re ready for real competition to begin.
How did the team tryouts go?
On the first day of classes, we brought them into Kilbourne Hall for a quick orientation and then gave them a few days to shoot some rounds. We had them do a grouping exercise to see how well they could shoot. We picked the ones with the most talent and that we think have the ability to move forward with precision rifle shooting.
How do you feel about this year’s roster?
It’s pretty set in stone now with 23 total members on the team. We’ll lose a few to attrition and we occasionally lose upperclassmen that either lose interest or decide to focus on their academics or commissioning. For the most part we keep all of them; we have a very high success rate and we have 2-3 who commission every year. As a veteran I’m proud of that fact. Our women’s team’s academic success was incredible this past year and they won the VMI academics award for the women’s team sports.