Fall practice has officially started, and there will be lots of news and analysis of depth charts, players, injuries, scrimmages and the like, but sometimes it's good to take a step back and think of something we all shared, not together - or maybe we did, but all of us had a first game at Lane.
When I went to my orientation in July of 1977, I hadn't a clue as to what I was getting myself into. It took me more than an hour to map out the route to get to Blacksburg from my house in suburban Alexandria. My mother came with me and helped to drive, but we putted down I95 drove out Route 3 to take the road to Orange, and then through Gordonsville to I64...ugh. I66 still didn't go all the way to I81, so it was across hill and dale to get to something resembling a highway.
I had never seen the campus before. Heck I didn't even know the school colors or the mascot. All that I knew is that I got the "Fat" letter in the mail, and it was a school that I could afford. I also was an Army Brat who was looking to get into the Air Force at the time. So, I signed the paperwork to join the Corps of Cadets, and after the orientation shock, went back home to spend the remainder of my summer, before reporting for Cadre.
Fast forward to September 17, 1977, and a warm partly cloudy late Summer/Early fall day... and after a morning inspection, my Rat Buds and I from our tiny little company, of the tiny little 1977 Corps of Cadets, dutifully in Dress Uniform with white hats and white ducks (the current Cadets wouldn't know what starched white ducks are, or were - they were our white cotton duck pants that were starched hard and creased at the campus laundry... they made a weird "wish wish wish" sound when you walked, and got dirty just putting them on... but we looked sharp.
Well we made our way past the construction at the East Stands. They were being expanded to a 2nd level, and were embarrassingly tiny at the time. We quietly assembled into our companies and squadrons by drifting to guidons; carefully avoiding as much eye contact with upperclassmen as was possible. They brought us to attention, told us to march in using the beat of the base drum to time our left foot fall. And then we marched into the stadium, faced the old West stands (no big clubhouse or glass enclosures.. just about 2/3rds of the current seating with a basic press box. We saluted the President's press box and then marched around the north end zone and were halted in turn to climb up the stairs from the field to the East stands - where the Corps used to sit between the 40 yard lines.
I don't remember many specifics after that. I do remember bellowing out cheers:
RAH TECH! RAH TECH! RAH TECH! RAH!
THE WHOLE DAMN TEAM!
THE WHOLE DAMN TEAM!
Then ‘A' Company would challenge us with:
RIP RAH REE!
VIA VIA VEE!
VIRGINIA! VIRGINIA! A! M! C!
Then the ‘D' Company guys (the Corps was coed, but all the women were in ‘L' Squadron in 1977) would pipe up with their cheer: Yayh! Yayh! - which defies actually trying to write it out because it contained something like ‘chuh' ‘chuh' accompanied by each nonsense word being said with a slide stomp of the foot, and then a sort of horses whinny at the end of "Rack-a-mahoot" or some such something.
And then of course I will wrap this up with something that every one of my kids was taught while sitting in their high chairs waiting for food...
READY! ONE TWO! ONE TWO!
HOKIE! HOKIE! HOKIE! HI!
TECHS! TECHS! VPI!
SOLA REX! SOLA RAH!
RAY RI VPI!
TEAM! TEAM! TEAM!
*please note that the official cheer is "Techs" not "Tech" but mostly you hear "Tech" singular now.
Of course we only got to sing "Tech Triumph" twice, because we only scored two field goals. The Skipper (the old brass Skipper) was fired twice by its ‘F' Squadron gun crew(nicknamed "F-Troop by those of us completely jealous that they got to fire the gun). The score was 12 hoarse Rats, dress uniforms sweated through, and due to be worn to church on Sunday morning, and an extra Pass for the evening spent at Mike's for burgers, fries, and beer... and then After Sundown for some more beer and dancing with pretty girls.
There would be more such events but none had the excitement and thrill of that first Virginia Tech football game, even if we weren't very good back then, and got our butts kicked 27-6. So, think back. What happened for your first Virginia Tech Hokies football game? Did winning even matter in the grander scheme of the memory of the day?
Less than a month to: LET'S GO! HOKIES! I can't wait... can you?