The date was August 30th, 2018, and I remember the clouds had just begun settling in, looming over my dorm’s quad with their large gray shapes: giant blob-sized masses. It was almost time to leave for practice, and an important practice at that, because the Director of Athletics was coming to speak with the Marching Virginians. Our director, Dr. Polly Middleton, had not reached out about any inclement weather conditions that may affect practice, and the iPhone’s weather update had not yet called for rain.
But we all know the iPhone weather app. When we want it most to display weather in our favor, it lies to us.
I spent ten minutes reasoning with myself. Do I take an umbrella? Did I have space in my bag for that if it didn’t rain? Couldn’t I just get away with wearing only a rain jacket? Yes, but of course I would decide that only wearing a rain jacket would suffice.
The moment I stepped outside, a light rain began. A soft pitter-patter and lightly dampened shoes, I settled. I could tolerate. As I started ascending the exhausting staircase behind the dorm, it was like the sky suddenly decided to release all of its frustrations to the ground below.
A venomous downpour of drops bigger than dimes descended upon the sidewalk, the students, the trees, the grass, everything in its path now felt the sky’s wrath.
So, what did I do, you might ask? Well, I decided I was going to continue walking, because it couldn’t possibly keep on like this forever… right?
I leaped, without grace, over puddles, skidded across crosswalks, danced over rock pooled pathways, and managed never to slip. The entire time this was happening, I had one headphone in and had thought all of the noise was from me dodging pellets of angry water and the music. Yet, the entire time, one individual from the band had been following me, using me as a guide over and around all of the water soaked messes I put myself through.
The noise was from him, talking on the phone, graciously balancing his bag and the umbrella above his head.
The umbrella. Above his head.
I was already in the Marching Virginians’ parking lot by the time I had noticed this fellow stranger, after having walked all this way just to ask to be under his umbrella for two more minutes of walking… was it worth it, to sacrifice my dignity, my masterful performance with the environment? No, it was not.
I kept walking, purposefully splashing through puddles of pavement water until the squish-squash of my shoes and socks were equally dispersed. I arrived at 5:24 PM on the dot. I dared not take my phone from my raincoat pocket for fear of water damage.
I should have.
“MV 2018: If you are walking, or haven’t started walking, WAIT! Go inside a building and wait until the rain dies down! If you are in your car, wait!”
5:21 PM, Dr. Polly Middleton
I was already in the parking lot by then. After wringing out my shorts in front of my friends, revealing the dry undershirt my raincoat had so generously protected, and slipping out of my rainwater tennis-shoes, we had all shared a bond that day. There wasn’t a single person that I could see that wasn’t soaked in some way, even the people who had driven had been viciously attacked in their short time from the car to the pavilion.
And the best part was, Whit Babcock, Virginia Tech Director of Athletics, still brought us popsicles! Not only did we have multi colored tongues, we also shared a deep satisfaction. I could say that this satisfaction was from devouring three popsicles, but I’d much rather believe that it was from doing something so outrageously ridiculous just to get to practice. Who in their right mind would voluntarily hike through a downpour to get to a rehearsal that potentially was cancelled? I hadn’t even looked at my phone since I had left the dorm.
The answer is, someone like me: A Marching Virginian. Someone who isn’t afraid of a mere few inches of water. Someone who understands the importance of being on time, of keeping your word and holding yourself to it. Someone who can trek through the worst and still feel at their best with their teammates.
That’s the real MV experience.