I’m sure everyone can remember their first Hokie football game, but how many of us can say we were just ten years old the first time we entered Lane Stadium? I can.
After spending Thanksgiving with my grandparents in Roanoke, my family and I drove to Virginia Tech, a place I didn’t yet know I would call home, to watch the battle for the Commonwealth Cup, although I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant at the time. Our seats were high up in the East stands, and climbing the bleachers was quite the task for my little legs. By the end of the game, I was frozen to the bone.
I got to participate in several game day traditions that many people don’t get to experience until they are already in college. I tailgated beforehand, high-fived the Hokie bird, and jumped to Enter Sandman. Not only did I get to see the Hokies beat the Cavaliers, but I got to watch the Marching Virginians perform their halftime show, and the sousaphones play the Hokie Pokie after third quarter. When they finished, my brother, who was eight at the time, leaned over to me, pointed to the line of tubas retreating back into their stands, and said “that’s gonna be me.” Now, he plays the tuba in his high school marching band and just submitted his application to Tech (fingers crossed!).
Who would have thought that nine years later I would find myself cheering on the same team for the same matchup and the same trophy?
This time instead of tailgating before the game, I practiced for the halftime performance before marching down to the stadium. My seats weren’t up at the top of the East stands, but on the front row of North end zone. This time, I knew exactly what the Commonwealth Cup was and what it meant for us to win. In a season where we were often all too worried that the outcome of the game would be another loss, the Cup was up for grabs and it seemed like it could be anyone’s game.
Once again, I cheered on the Hokies, but this time my heart was really in it. This time, I knew what it meant for us to win, and that it had been 14 years since we lost. I knew that if we lost, we wouldn’t even have the possibility to be eligible for a bowl game. I knew that, even though I wasn’t out on the field, I could still make a difference in the game.
After the Hokies pulled out another heart-stopping win, marking 15 consecutive years, I sang along to Tech Triumph as the football team rushed our stands with their trophy. Looking around at my fellow MVs and remembering the first time I was here with my family years earlier, I realized that I had found a new group to experience game day with. I know that even years from now this will be a day I remember.