From time to time, most of us here at TVF will travel to football games to watch our favorite teams play. Dave went to the Super Bowl last season, I traveled with Spencer and Hawkeye to Iowa City to see the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes, and Trey made the trip to Tuscaloosa to see the Gators take on the Tide. This past weekend, I traveled to Blacksburg to see my Jackets against the Hokies. As you may recall from Trey’s visit to Alabama, sometimes the home crowd isn’t so receptive to visitors. Other times, the folks in the town you’re visiting are the exact opposite. I am happy to report that the good people of Blacksburg, VA fall into the latter camp, and not the former.
Virginia Tech fans and Blacksburg in general has a well earned reputation as one of the friendliest places to visit for fans of opposing teams, and it is my great pleasure to say that I can 100% confirm that it’s true. Everyone we met over the weekend couldn’t have been nicer. From people we met up with to have drinks Sunday night to service industry folks to whom it was obvious that we were out of towners, we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. Granted, it didn’t hurt that just about everyone we met was a Braves fan, which is just another point in their favor. As my sister and I were walking around campus on Monday afternoon, more than a couple of people saw us decked out in our Georgia Tech gear and made a point to say “hey, welcome to Blacksburg”. One man even offered us something to drink at his tailgate, as we were randomly walking down the sidewalk.
Before the game, we met up with some people we knew through twitter, and my buddy Joe, who runs The Key Play. We had just been over to see the Lane Stadium sign, from which some Georgia Tech students stole the “T” the night before (here’s a mention of it at Joe’s site, complete with a picture my sister took of the t-less sign). Nobody at the tailgate we were at had heard of the theft, and so we told them about the tradition of stealing the T from Tech Tower, and how that’s become somewhat of a traveling show. Most places, something like that wouldn’t sit well with the hometown folks. When Auburn and Cam Newton beat Alabama season before last, and someone put a Cam Newton jersey on a statue of Bear Bryant, that was the impetus for Harvey Updike to drive to Auburn and poison the trees at Toomer’s Corner. In Blacksburg, however, the reaction was much much different. Everyone thought it was a great prank. They took it for what it was, and embraced the spirit of the whole thing. That’s Blacksburg and Virginia Tech fans in microcosm.
After the game was over, and after we had trudged the mile or so back to our car (all the while receiving no heckling, taunting, or jeering from any Hokie partisans), we needed something to eat, so we stopped at the Waffle House across the street from our hotel. All of the staff was decked out in their gameday gear, and the place was full of Hokie fans. Once again, everyone was beyond welcoming. As our waitress handed us our menus, she remarked that we probably didn’t even need them, since we’d probably been to Waffle House a time or two, seeing as it’s based in Atlanta (she was right, no menu needed). As we were leaving, she made a point to tell us to have a safe trip home.
I don’t make a ton of trips to see the Jackets play on the road, and if I do, it usually depends on what’s at stake in the game, or maybe an infrequent opponent. I have to say that after the experience I had this past weekend, Blacksburg is at the top of my list for a return trip, and I don’t see it getting knocked from its perch anytime soon. If you have the opportunity to go see your favorite team play in Blacksburg, do it. The gameday atmosphere is great, and the warmness and welcoming nature of the people there can’t be overstated. When it comes to understanding what college football’s all about, Virginia Tech people get it