Todd and Barbara Bachman, whose daughter Elisabeth “Wiz” McCutcheon was a member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team in the Athens summer games, were quintessential supporters of the sport. The first day of the Beijing Olympics, Todd died of a stabbing and Barbara was seriously injured by an attacker who tried to rob them and then committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of the ancient Drum Tower.
Elizabeth, a 2004 volleyball gold medalist, is married to the U.S. men’s volleyball coach, Hugh McCutcheon. His first thought, when hearing the news of his in-laws, was how to get to his wife. As a coach at the Olympics, as well as a son-in-law, there was no question about what to do in the face of such a tragedy. His response was what others expected of him: “volleyball is my job, my family is my life.” He left to support and comfort his wife.
McCutcheon did not return to work and chase what could have been an even more meaningful gold medal. But he phoned his team before the first game. Hearing Hugh’s voice and getting leadership from him meant a lot to the players. And the volleyball community that loved the Bachmans rallied. The men’s team took the floor with the victims’ initials written on the backs of their shoes and said a silent prayer in memory of Todd Bachman. In a match that was much tougher than it should have been, the U.S. men’s volleyball team won what turned out to be a bitter-sweet victory.