The condition of Sean McQuade, a Virginia Tech student from Gloucester County who was shot in the face in Monday's rampage, has been upgraded from critical to serious, hospital officials said today.

McQuade is receiving treatment at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, in Roanoke, Va., according to hospital spokesman Eric Earnhart. He underwent surgery Monday night.

McQuade, who stands 6-foot-3, was a reliable varsity basketball and baseball player at Clearview Regional High School in Mullica Hill. He earned varsity letters in both sports during each of his four high school years.

His mother, Jody McQuade, learned of her son's injury while at work at a real estate office on Mullica Hill's Main Street, according to a source close to the family.

Another person who works in the real estate office has a son at Virginia Tech, and that student phoned the office about 10 a.m. Monday.

Jody McQuade became anxious, wondering why her son had not called.

Once she learned her son had been shot in the worst mass shooting in American history, family members - including grandparents and Sean McQuade's sister - drove to Virginia.

McQuade's baseball coach and guidance counselor from Clearview High recalled how, after a visit to Virginia Tech, "his mind was made up." McQuade was going to go to Virginia Tech and study math.

Rocco Cornacchia, the counselor and coach, said he kept in touch with Sean's grandfather, Ralph McQuade, who said that Sean was looking forward to graduation and a job as an actuary for an insurance company.

"He was always focused, whether on the basketball court, baseball field, or in the classroom," said his coach.

He was the kind of player who used his intellect to solve strategic issues and "never lost his temper," Cornacchia said.

Fellow basketball player Anthony Cicchini remembered his freshman year, when the upperclassman McQuade took care of him. Cicchini said he felt intimidated around the older players.

"At first I didn't really want to play there because I felt like I would rather have people accept me than start in basketball. He really was a comfort. He told me not to worry about that kind of stuff. He said if I earned it, it was mine," said Cicchini, who is now a Temple University freshman.

McQuade, who became captain of the baseball and basketball teams, graduated in 2003, said coach Cornacchia.

Clearview High has had a run of horrific luck in the last few years. Daniel MacKay, of Mantua, was killed in a car wreck on I-295 in June 2006. And 2005 graduate John Fiocco Jr., who attended the College of New Jersey, was found dead in a Bucks County landfill in April 2006.

Contact staff writer Cynthia Burton at 856-779-3858 or
Inquirer staff writer Sam Carchidi contributed to this article.