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Published:April 18th, 2007 17:06 EST
Hokies Show the Beauty of  Spirit in Face of Tragedy

Hokies Show the Beauty of Spirit in Face of Tragedy

By Zach Crizer

Blacksburg, and a 45-minute radius for that matter, is a beautiful, rural area. Only since the 1990s could the town that the college built even be mistaken for an urban area. While it may not be the most normal or admirable way to gain recognition and popularity, football undoubtedly took Virginia Tech from a nice state engineering school with a funny name to one of the largest, most recognizable universities on the East Coast.

To give a little Virginia Tech background information, the original school was a land grant institution called Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical University. It then morphed into Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI), and finally took on “State University” and took on the nickname Virginia Tech. However, the question most asked of the school is the origin of the mascot, the mysterious Hokie Bird, and the nickname, Hokies. I have the answer, which is now in high demand.

In 1896, a college student from Bath County, Virginia won a cheer contest at his college. The man was O.M. Stull; the cheer consisted of these words: Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, hy, rae, ri, VPI. The college was Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech. They added an “e” to Hoki and called that their nickname. The VPI fighting Gobblers became the VPI Hokies. In the 1910’s a boy named Floyd Meade paraded around football games at Lane Stadium with a turkey. What was Floyd’s nickname? “Hard times.” That is about all there was for the Hokie football team until the 70’s. Not only were they bad, they had a mascot that seemed to be a joke, and colors of Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange never before seen together. Then, they were weird. Now they are unique.

The school gained national recognition and a tremendous spike in applicants after the 1999 football team, led by super freshman Michael Vick, and hometown coach Frank Beamer, won their way to the National Championship game before losing to Florida State. Every year since 1998, the football team has been the subject of national TV exposure at least twice each season.

Without question, the ardent, fanatical passion of alumni for their school dating back to graduates of the 60’s drove the school to the forefront. It became known, first through its sports fans and later through all aspects of the school, for an unwavering fervent spirit and a tremendous appreciation for the university.

Maybe if the deadliest school shooting in the country had to occur, Virginia Tech is the most ready for it. Perhaps not in lockdown preparation, but spiritually and mentally, this student body and university community is one of the most tight-knit around. It was telling as reporters stood in awe of the Drillfield, in which the candlelight vigil took place, and the enormous amount of Virginia Tech apparel. As any person who has been to the campus can tell, it is not that different every single day.

CNN asked five students if they would leave Tech and not a single one even hesitated in saying no. The community that has become known as “Hokie Nation” does not need to band together; it has been together all along. Maybe in a terribly tragic way, this was meant to teach the nation how to do the same.