College Gameday in Blacksburg

While it wasn’t the first time that College Gameday had been to Blacksburg, the crew had not been to Virginia Tech since 2011, when they came to bring a sense of normalcy back to a vulnerable community after the tragedy of April 16th.  Saturday’s visit to Virginia Tech was the 6th appearance in Blacksburg, and the 10th featuring Virginia Tech.

Thousands of fans lined up early to be a part of the excitment, and even though our team did not win the day, we had an absolute blast!

Co-host Rece Davis commented that “this place has been special in the history of College Gameday, and it’s also been special, I think, in the evolution and growth of college football in general on ESPN”.

Virginia Tech’s famous Hokie Stone made for the perfect backdrop.

Davis continued “I think a lot of the Virginia Tech brand was built by the willingness to play on Thursday night. This is a place that I think is unique and special to both our show and to our coverage of the sport as a whole.

One of the hallmarks of Gameday are the signs, and I thought I’d share just a few that I saw.  They may not make much sense if you are not a VT or Clemson fan but perhaps you’ll appreciate the creativity.

Gobblers – a reference to our mascot

Dabo Swinney is the Clemson Head Coach

Bud Foster is Virginia Tech’s beloved Defensive Coordinator and Associate Head Coach

Howard’s Rock is touched by every Clemson player as they take the field; Hokie Stone is traditional to Virgina Tech

Kirk Herbstreit is a long time co-host of College Gameday

Enter Sandman by Metallica is the song played as the team takes the field.  Check out this link to get a feel for the joyful insanity that reigns in Lane Stadium on game day.  Seriously! Check it out!

Despite the loss, it was a great day in Blacksburg.

Proud to be a Hokie!

Go Hokies!

Motorcycle, Bicycle, and River, Oh My!

As I sat in the river yesterday, I thought of all the items on my “to do” list.  Yes, I was actually sitting in the Little River, and I was oh so happy.

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I looked up to see the smoke from the grill caught in the sunlight streaming through the trees, and in addition to my “to do” list, I thought about how fortunate I was.

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Surrounded by friends, on a gorgeous September afternoon, with laughter and the sound of flowing water providing amazing background music.

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The only thing that I could have wanted was more time to take care of that “to do” list.  Thankfully, I had an extra day off for that, and today is that extra day.  I’ve spent the last 8 hours scatching items off of that list, and that means it is finally time for WordPress, a chance to relive the weekend, and a visit to all of you.

After getting off work on Friday, I stopped by Rising Silo Brewery.

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Part of a ground-up movement, “the purpose of the brewery is to create fermented beverages from the best ingredients, overflowing with thought and authenticity in taste”.

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Rising Silo is a farm brewery, the foundation of which is Glade Road Growing, a farm located on a conservation easement, which means that it will permanently remain open space._MG_5213-2_MG_5211-2

How can you not love their mission: to create “an evolving space that community members near and far may gather to connect, dream, celebrate and relax. We believe in fresh food, true brews, and good people”.

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Saturday morning started with a solo, 17 mile ride on the bicycle, partly along the New River,

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followed by a 200 mile group ride on the motorcycle.

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In my quest to improve my health, I even managed to run 2.5 miles!

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And all this fabulousness brings me back to today.

If being able to run, ride both bikes, and spend time on the water wasn’t enough, I’ve been gifted with this extra day, Labor Day, to get caught up.  It is so satisfying to see the “to do” list get shorter.

 Labor Day, a creation of the labor movement over 100 years ago, “is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country”.

While I know that I work hard every day, how is it that I still feel a twinge of guilt for being off today?

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One more great thing about this weekend?  The Hokies won, too.

Sam Rogers (45) carries the American flag to lead the Hokies into Lane Stadium for the first time this year.

Photo Credit: thekeyplay.com

Yes, College Football season is here, and I’ll be watching the FSU – Ole Miss game tonight while visiting all of you.

Frank Beamer and The Hokies!

Some of you will read the title and think “What’s a Hokie?“, while others of you will be familiar with the nickname of my favorite college football team, Virginia Tech.

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Frank Beamer has been the Head Football Coach at Virginia Tech for the past 29 years and you would be hard pressed to find a more beloved coach.  Not because of the number of seasons he has coached (29), the number of wins (279 career wins, 237 at VT), and the 23 consecutive bowl appearances. Rather it is because of his character, integrity, and humility.  He has been an educator, a source of strength and comfort after the April 16th mass shooting, and a father figure and mentor to the young men that he has coached.  Coach Beamer is retiring this year at the age of 69, and the celebrations, accolades, and love have been pouring in.

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Coach Beamer’s last home game was a couple weeks ago and thousands of people gathered before the game to greet him as he took his final walk to the stadium.  The following photos were my effort, despite the shade, to document an incredible day

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Coach Beamer arrived amidst a sea of people (check out the paint on the face of the fan next to him).

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While others think the school colors are a strange combination, VT fans believe they are reminiscent of fall.

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We’ve not had the best record this year, and we were not expected to win the game.  Even still, a sellout crowd, hundreds of former players who returned to celebrate their beloved coach, and tribute videos on the Jumbotron marked the day.  We laughed, we cried, we cheered, we sang.  It was an incredibly emotional day.

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Despite going into overtime, the Hokies did not win.  This day, though, was all about Frank.  From the second the game ended, all eyes turned to Coach Beamer.  Surrounded by photographers, he spoke to the fans.

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The team lifted him on their shoulders and carried him from the field while we watched, and cried, and cheered some more.

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(yes, I need more zoom)

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It took a long time for me and the rest of the fans to exit the stands.  I just didn’t want to leave.  Once I did leave, though, I wandered around soaking up the sights and sounds.

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The road in front of Lane Stadium has been named after Coach Beamer.

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Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va

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As I walked back to my truck, I saw one last opportunity for a shot.  Coach Beamer played football at Virginia Tech long before he became the Head Coach, and in 2002 his number was retired.

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If you are still with me here at the end of this long post, know that I am grateful.  Frank Beamer means so much to the Hokie Nation.

He’s just a good, good man.

Another Sign That Fall is on the Way!

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Some of you are college football fans, and if you are a devoted one like I am, the anticipation of the season and that first game is crazy fun!

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Even when the outcome is not great (like when your quarterback gets injured and it all goes down hill from there).

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This game offered time to campaign, to visit with friends, and to pull out the camera.

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The colors of Virginia Tech are the colors of fall, and are perfect for football season.

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The best part was hanging out with the very enthusiastic, oh so much fun Virginia Tech Young Democrats.

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Our quarterback is pending surgery and the team suffered a loss, yet the season stretches out before us.  There are 11 more games in this season, and 56 days until Election Day!!

Atlanta!

My friend Ruth and I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia  this past weekend, the latest installment in our annual road trip to watch the Hokies.  As avid Virginia Tech Football fans (and basketball fans, too, for that matter),  we choose one away game to attend each year.  We’ve traveled to Chapel Hill, NC;  Huntington, WVa;  Morgantown, WVa; and to Washington, DC and Atlanta twice.  We try to find a town or place to explore along the way, and search out the historic downtown of any community we visit.  This was our 5th year in a row, and our 7th road trip overall.

We posed for the traditional start of the trip photo and then hit the road!

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The normal 6 1/2 hour trip turned into 9 due to a combination of Friday afternoon rush hour, labor day weekend, and football traffic.  A stop in Kings Mountain, NC and dinner at the Cherokee Grill was just what we needed.

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We finally saw the lights of Atlanta a little after 10pm.  I was so excited about finally arriving that I attempted to take a picture … with my cell phone … while Ruth navigated the interstate at 65mph!  This picture doesn’t reflect it, but the night skyline of Atlanta is beautiful!

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The next day dawned hot and muggy, but we had plenty of time to explore a few of the neighborhoods of Atlanta while waiting for game time. Theresa, our host for the weekend, was an excellent tour guide.

Photography on a trip with friends is a bit of a challenge.  How do you find time to shoot quality images while spending time with friends?  I definitely want to document the trip but I don’t want to spend all my time behind the lens.

We explored the neighborhood near Emory University and had a delicious breakfast at the Rise-n-Dine.

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Theresa drove us through the Krog Street Tunnel, which is known for it’s street art.  I jumped out of the car and had less than a minute to shoot what the locals call their “living bulletin board and urban art gallery”.

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The CNN Center and Olympic Park were both crawling with Tide and Hokie fans, although Virginia Tech fans were far outnumbered.

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Virginia Tech met Alabama in the Georgia Dome, and while we did not beat the #1 team in College Football, our defense was outstanding.  We held them to fewer yards and our offense gained more yards than most teams did in 2012.

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Sunday morning came quickly and it was time to head back home.  We briefly stopped in Spartanburg, SC and I wish we’d had more time to visit.  The downtown area, while quiet for a Sunday, showed evidence of historic renovation and revitalization.

Loved this Urban Art installation called Artcycle.

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The sun was bright at midday and the photos aren’t the best, but the artcycles were great!

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Locally owned businesses have the most creative signage and curb appeal.

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We were back in Radford in the late afternoon and had a short visit with friends who had gathered for labor day.  A lovely way to end the weekend … even if we did miss the music.

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