Two years ago today, an unimaginable tragedy struck our campus. It was an act perpetrated by a coward, who sought to steal something from us. What he did, in fact, was show the world that we will never break. We will prevail. And we will do so with the support of the world.
The following is a post from TechSideline.com. I have kept it for the last two years because it spoke volumes to me about people, and how they pull together in the face of the unspeakable. Even those that purport to hate us in ordinary times. Hokies felt connected to each other, but we also felt connected to the entire state of Virginia (even those nasty wahoos), the schools in the ACC, the United States of America, the world.
Tech Sports News
The events of this week didn’t leave us any time — or inclination — to put together a typical TSLMail this week, so we thought we would focus on the support provided by ‘s “rivals” during this difficult time.
There was a huge outpouring of support on the TSL message boards and email this week from fans and alumni of other universities. A lot of it came from schools who have recently played Virginia Tech in football or will soon play them in football … or both.
Quite a few LSU fans showed up to express condolences, as did Auburn fans (Music City Bowl clash — TSL’s GM, Will Stewart, was interviewed by ESPN radio in Mobile, Alabama, by a show host who normally concentrates on Alabama Crimson Tide sports and who referenced that 1998 Music City Bowl as the reason he respected VT.) 2004), Clemson fans, and even some Alabama fans (from the 1998
Colorado and Colorado State fans stopped by, because the VT tragedy resonated with them, due to the Columbine shootings years ago. They consoled us and warned us about the media coverage. (They were right about that.)
Texas A&M fans came by and emailed in large numbers, because Virginia Tech and Texas A&M “get” each other, more so than perhaps any two other schools in the country. There is a special bond and respect between A&M and VT, even though the two schools haven’t played football in four years and aren’t scheduled to do so again. The bond arises from mutual respect earned during the 2002 and 2003 A&M/VT clashes.
And of course, there are the Cavaliers from the University of Virginia. The support shown in Charlottesville and on TheSabre.com has been remarkable. So we present to you two posts made on our boards this week by Virginia fans. These were among the better, more heartfelt posts we saw. They weren’t the only ones, of course, and they may not even be “the best.” But we liked them, and we grabbed them when we saw them.
We close out a difficult week with heartfelt thoughts from the other side.
I can’t tell you how proud I was to see you chanting “Let’s Go Hokies” during the convocation today. I am a fervent Hoo and like all of us over the country, my heart couldn’t be heavier. Many of my great friends went to VT and I have even filled up some seats at with Hokie friends over Hoo coworkers because they were, well, my friends. In fact, the last time you came to Charlottesville, I was in the bar with them by halftime. It was a chance to not care about anything in the world but fun and great people.
Its funny to hear the reporters ask dumb questions like “Will the Hokies recover?” Obviously they don’t know about Virginia Tech. You can take the large mega state colleges, the pristine ivy leagues, and the elite private schools; but even the Hoos know that you will be hard pressed to find fans any prouder of their school than those draped in orange and maroon. VT posters keep thanking us on thesabre.com for the support, but we should be thanking you for allowing us to share in your rebuilding. I see students handling questions from merciless reporters with tremendous poise. I tear up just seeing the images on television.
Today, I wore my orange sweater, and kept my office door shut because I didn’t want people seeing my eyes well up every time I clicked online for coverage. And when I watched your service today, one fact was more impressive than the pedigree of the speakers, the words in the messages, or the masses of media clamoring in from the world: You started the service standing up for your leader and you ended the service shouting for your school. There goes that Hokie pride that never, ever waivers. Ever.
“We will prevail, we will prevail, we will prevail.” Damn right you will.
Subject: The Hokie Culture
One thing has become crystal clear in this tragedy: their collective culture has made them uniquely prepared to emerge from this as strong as ever. And thank God.
In “peacetime”, the Tech unity always confused me. I’ve never met a Tech grad who wasn’t demonstrative about his or her alma mater. My brother-in-law — at 40 — drives the 5 hours or so for every home football game, flies to every bowl game, and travels to many road games. At a colleague’s house (female, also 40ish), it seemed like every household item was maroon or orange. Blankets, rugs, cups, etc., etc. Every Tech grad in my neighborhood always has a flag out. is WAY greater than at most other schools.
Contrast: I was a rabid Wahoo during my undergrad and grad years. Never missed a football, basketball, lax or soccer game. I’m enormously proud of my degrees. But I have… let’s see… a UVa sweatshirt, a UVa soccer T, and a UVA lax T. Now, I keep close track of the soccer and lax teams, but little else. People can know me for years without the subject coming up. Obviously there are many rabid Wahoo fans here on this board, but out of my friends, I’d say I’m fairly typical. And the same goes for my non-UVa friends.
In the Post today, they talked about the “be-true-to-your-school chauvinism and clubby rituals” and the “ridiculous sense of unity”. Why the big difference? What is it about the Tech experience that forges this identity?
It can’t be the campus– it’s a very nice campus, but there are plenty of beautiful campuses that don’t spawn that sense of identity. It can’t be the population or demographics — whatever differences between Tech and UVa populations there once were have largely vanished in the last few decades. Is it the geographic remoteness? Are other remote schools similar? What is handed down from student to student that accounts for this culture?
Let me be clear — I’ve never viewed it as a great positive. But now, when an almost unimaginable tragedy has hit the community, I’m hugely, hugely grateful that those kids have that sense of unity to help pull them through.
Hokies — you’re much bigger than this tragedy. Continue to be strong, and know that everyone in Virginia is pulling for you.
Stand proud Hokies…we have prevailed.