This weekend is the Class of 1969 Reunion. A lot has changed from when I first walked on campus in the Fall of 1965.
My dad was in the Army and in January 1964 was assigned to a unit in Frankfurt, West Germain as it was known then. The rest of the family joined him after about an 8-month delay while we waited for housing. When it came to post-high school plans, Virginia Tech was chosen out of a guidance counselor's reference book because I thought I wanted to work in the US Forestry service. I arrived by bus (all of my family was still back in Germany) having never seen Blacksburg or the campus before.
My first game experience was unique to me in many ways. As a member of the Corps of Cadets, we were required to go to every home game. We marched in and sat in block at about the 35-yard line in what felt to be an enormous stadium and played a "well-known" school, William and Mary. We won the game and the freshman "Rats" were given extra privileges, as was (is?) the custom. A young relatively unknown Frank Beamer would have been on the field somewhere (possibly on the bench).
There were no stands in either end zone as I recall. There was no "Enter Sandman". There was no jumping up and down by the students in the stands, in fact the stands were often not that full. There were no Maroon Effect or White Out games. The Highty Tighties were the only band. VMI was our main rival (at least as far as the Corps was concerned) which we played every year at Thanksgiving in Roanoke. All of that sounds pretty tame by today's standards, but it was a big deal for a naive freshman cadet.
Later, Frank Beamer came back to the Virginia Tech to be its football coach and the Hokies grew from a team that few had ever heard about to be known as a national football program. Most of that reputation was built on a hardnose (lunch bucket) style of play. Sure, there have been flashes lightning (Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, David Wilson, etc.), but I have enjoyed men like Sam Rogers even more for their grit and enthusiasm.
This week the class of 1969 will be having its 50th reunion. I will be there with classmates I have not seen since graduation. We will be hosting the UNC Tarheels for this game. I hope we are courteous to their fans but not kind to their team. I hope to hear Skipper roar many, many times and be able to go hoarse singing Tech Triumph loudly as we come away with a big victory. Let's go ...