“GAMEDAY, LET’S GO HOKIES!” we all cheered as the drumline kicked off the cadence to escort us down to Lane Stadium. My heart raced as enthusiasm and adrenaline filled the air around me. Like many students at Virginia Tech, this wasn’t my first football game. I, too, was a bright-eyed kid who sat in Lane many years ago, eating a turkey leg while only somewhat paying attention to the intense action on the field. This time, however, was different. September 3rd, 2016. My first game as Hokie. My first game as a Marching Virginian.
The beautifully sunny Saturday began with a quick rehearsal at the Marching Virginians Center. Surrounded by family and friends watching from the sideline, our excitement grew as each minute brought us closer to kickoff. Soon it was time to head toward the stadium, and as we got lined up in our shiny black shoes and crisp orange, maroon, and white uniforms, each section made sure to do their pregame rituals- huddling, jumping up and down, cheering, all to get pumped up for the thrilling game ahead.
We marched down to the stadium, line by line, high-fiving all the fans along the way and making sure not to miss any eager children, smiling wide with their hands held high. We got to the stadium early, in classic “hurry up and wait” fashion, so we had plenty of time to take pictures with each other before the game and marvel at the vast expanse of seats which quickly became filled as kickoff drew near.
Pretty soon, it was game time. The stadium was buzzing as we all grew anxious for the start of the game and the beginning of a new season. The opening notes to “Enter Sandman” blared over the jumbotron speakers and suddenly the whole stadium was trembling with 66,000 fans jumping up and down at once. As I looked around the stands and marveled at Hokie Nation joining together to show our excitement for this one song, time seemed to slow down, and I felt a sense of awe and pride unlike any I had felt before.
When halftime came, I knew it was our time to shine- the part of the game that everyone (well, we can pretend it’s everyone) came for. The drum major whistles sharply brought us all to attention, and then 330 instruments all resonated at once as we created an explosion of sound, playing the opening riff to Rainbow Sunshine for the first of many times that season. The crowd danced along as we performed the Hokie Pokie, and they cheered wildly as we created classic VT forms on the field. Before I knew it, the seven and a half minutes were up, and I had completed my first halftime show.
The second half of the game went smoothly, as we captivated the crowd with drumline cheers and pep tunes galore, applauding our team on to a 36-13 victory. After the game was over, we took the long walk back up Chicken Hill with aching legs and tired eyes. As over 330 of us stumbled up that long hill, exhausted from cheering on our team for hours on end, I came to a realization: although I was unsure of my major or who my friends would be, or even how well our team would do that season, there was one thing I was sure of- that I was overwhelmingly proud to call myself a Marching Virginian.
I think most people have a similar experience with their first game in the MVs- a game that is full of excitement, passion, and unforgettable memories. Although I have played in countless games since then, some of which had more sensational shows or higher scores on the jumbotron, my first game as an MV will always be my favorite. Through jumping up and down to “Enter Sandman” for the first time as a student, dancing along to more drumline cheers than I could count, and marching alongside the people who would later become my best friends, I have learned that there truly is nothing quite like the first game.