Like a good many of you who will begin your college career's today I was an out-of-state student. I was probably playing with Micro Machines when Druck hit a streaking Holmes for the go-ahead touchdown in '95, and I didn't start following the Hokies closely until I considered Virginia Tech as a college choice in '991. I saw the Hokies paste Connecticut in my first game at Lane. Like any other "first" I had no idea how to handle myself. I didn't smuggle in any airplane bottles of bourbon, I sat in the west stands, and didn't care to do the Hokie Pokie.
After four year's and twenty-plus football games, I kind of found my way. Here's what I learned.
photographer: Steve Tatum
1) There are no assigned seats in the North End Zone. Yes, your ticket stub may seem as if it indicates a specific place for you to sit2, but it in fact does not. Why? Because you must stand the entire time. If you're lucky to obtain tickets in the NEZ the only place you will sit over the course of a game is on a toilet seat at halftime. And in Lane Stadium, I wouldn't recommend that. Why do you have to stand the entire game? There are two reasons actually.
Foremost, more people can cram into the NEZ that way; turn those shoulders yo. It's a given that people will make their way from other sections of Lane to sit in the NEZ, because the NEZ is the best place to watch the game. That's just a fact, and it needs no explanation.
Additionally, you can be louder while standing, and your main purpose for being in Lane is to be loud when necessary (see 5). Boston College fans aren't loud, they have to pump artificial noise into Alumni Stadium. That's why I mock them when I see them wearing their beloved "SuperFan" shirts. Being loud leads to awesome things, like Kellen Winslow Jr. totally flipping his shit in 2003 and Clemson fans throwing empty airplane bottles at Tommy Bowden in 2006. Semi-scientific explanation: you can stomp the bleachers harder and project your voice better while standing.
2) Wear orange in September, maroon the rest of the season. Exceptions begrudgingly made for "effect" games.
3) Do not enter the student ticket lottery only to scalp the tickets. Yes, you can make extra money doing this. That doesn't make it right. In fact, it's a downright douchie thing to do. Get money by working a job, putting in your 10 minutes on the phone with your grandparents, taking out a student loan, or getting a Pell Grant.
4) Regardless of the score, or the time remaining, never leave a game early. This actually happened.
However, about 10,000 fans will go to their graves regretting they only heard the comeback echoing out of Lane Stadium instead of seeing it with their own eyes.
A corollary to the rule above, never arrive late.
5) Know when to be loud. When the offense is on the field be quiet. Don't even talk to the friend next to you. In 2001 on our final drive down 14-20 against Syracuse my buddy asked me to pass him an airplane bottle. Grant Noel must have heard him, he was distracted, looked up into the stadium, didn't audible and was sacked for a safety. Yeah, that one's on us.
When the defense is on the field yell. When it's third-down yell and jingle your keys. When it's fourth-down, yell, raise your arms over your head, palms out, touch your index fingers, and chant "block that kick" all while moving your arms down to your waist and back up again.
6) Don't be an asshole. The Hokies are going to lose more than you'd like them to. They're also going to beat teams you'll come to despise. This will happen over and over again. As a young and ignorant "fan" I gave my fair share of, in the mildest sense, "the business" to opposing fans. However, that only serves to negatively represent the colors on your chest. When a Boise State fan told me, "hope you win all your games and the ACC", as we were spiraling down (both mentally and physically) FedEx I wanted to respond, "I hope we lose every game, but UVa, so we screw your strength of schedule." I didn't. Now I bite my tongue.
I like reading stuff like this, and one day you will too.
I have been to quite a few away football games for Nebraska and other destinations. After undergrad in the Big 12 and professional school in the Big 10, ACC and SEC, I have traveled to a fair share of the FBS/BCS stadiums. In all my travels, and all the experiences ... the Virginia Tech fans were the most hospitable of any — bar none. It is the closest experience to Lincoln in terms of fan friendliness that I have seen. Their fans were gracious and were as helpful as any.
Don't confuse this as a complete endorsement of the Hokies Respect campaign either. If you want to get "sloppy drunk" or chant stick it in, that's your prerogative. In fact, the latter is encouraged, and the former, well... it's football season. Just don't be an asshole when doing so.
7) The coaches aren't looking up into the stands listening to what you think they should do like they're a confused Price is Right contestant.
"THEY'RE BLITZIN' EVERY DOWN, RUN A SCREEN!"
"TIMEOUT! TIMEOUT! TIMEOUT!"
Don't scream out suggestions.3 No one, especially the coaches, gives a damn what you think, furthermore they can't hear you.
8) Ladies are subject to being tossed into the air one time for every point on the scoreboard after each touchdown.
9) Never, ever, let schoolwork get in the way of going to a football game. That includes pre-, and post-game festivities, tailgating and celebrating respectively. Over a four year college career there will be about 40 finals, 80 midterms, countless projects4 and homework, and just 25 games played in Lane Stadium. That's it. Make every one of them count.
I mean, who do you think we are, the Georgia Institute of Technology?
Don't ever, under any circumstances, ever do that in Lane Stadium.
We are Virginia Tech. Welcome to Lane Stadium and Blacksburg, Virginia, the best places in the world.
1My college criteria were: good football team, > 500 miles from home, and top a computer science program.
2In 2005 a girl told me I was standing where her seat was and she'd get a police officer if I didn't move. She didn't get it.
3Guilty as charged.
4My undergraduate research presentation fell on the same Thursday as VT-UMD. I presented with an orange and maroon face.