Monday, April 16, 2007

Hokie Pride...

Sorry, its a long one fellas. Its been a long day, and from being on the phone with my brother all morning, to calming my mother down in the afternoon, I've got a lot on my mind, and a lot to say. Needless to say, the events from this morning have allowed me to realize how awesome the community is down there, and how angry I am that something like this could happen to a town as great as Blacksburg, Virginia.

After returning home from an obviously surreal work day, I could only think of one thing to do upon walking into my apartment. I took down my Hokie flag hanging in my living room, walked out onto my porch and hung it proudly on the facade of my 3 story apartment. For whatever reason, it seemed like an appropriate tribute to an institution that became a large part of my life more than 11 years ago.

It was in 1996 when my parents decided to move our family from the only home I'd ever known, in Erie PA, to the southwestern Virginia city of Roanoke. Since Erie really only has a handful of smaller colleges, I was obviously unfamiliar with the idea of any University having such a foothold on the culture of a community. So naturally, it was impossible not to get caught up in the community's obsession with Virginia Tech.

While most of my affinity for the University stems from my following the football team for so many years, I can say that the town of Blacksburg, and the people in it, are legitimately wonderful. While other Universities in Virginia can maintain an heir of superiority, often using Blacksburg as the butt of jokes, the friendly rivalry, and overwhelming pride exhibited by the Virginia Tech community, speaks to the good natured simplicity of the community, and not its supposed lack of sophistication.

While Ohio State may have a more rabid fan following, and USC may have more national titles, and UVa may have more famous alumni, I've never seen a fanbase or a community have more pride than Virginia Tech Hokie fans (and its not just the sports community, its just as much a pride behind one of the great learning institutions in the country).

The obsession is simply contagious. My parents have never been sports fans (despite having lived here in Chicago for years, one of the great sports towns in America), and I would have never imagined in all my wildest dreams that I would make the same phone call home every fall Sunday while I was in college, to talk about Hokie football with my mom (a humorous side note: the only time in my life I've ever heard my mother say the word "fuck" was in reference to a 2006 Hokie football loss to Pitt- HER FUCKING ALMA MATER!!!! I could care less that none of us went to school there, you cannot tell me that Hokie football means nothing in our family). I can't stress that point enough- my parents, both being in the healthcare industry, could not have cared less that the sports world even existed prior to us living in Roanoke, Va.

Obviously the events of today will forever attach a stigma to a proud institution, not unlike what happened to Kent State and the University of Texas. I think the main difference is that our community in Virginia embraces Tech like no other community I've ever seen.

This is a community (Roanoke/Salem/Christiansburg/Blacksburg) that embraced my family 11 years ago when we moved. I couldn't imagine my family's transition going smoother in any other community. Its a community that personifies the idealism of "southern hospitality." Its a community that, like it or not, is deeply rooted in faith and will find a way to move past the events of today. Rest assured, Hokie flags will be flying high all throughout Virginia in the coming months. I may eventually take down my flag from the front of our building. But I don't want to forget what happened in Blacksburg this morning.

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