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.
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.
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
Coach Beamer arrived amidst a sea of people (check out the paint on the face of the fan next to him).
While others think the school colors are a strange combination, VT fans believe they are reminiscent of fall.
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.
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.
The team lifted him on their shoulders and carried him from the field while we watched, and cried, and cheered some more.
(yes, I need more zoom)
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.
The road in front of Lane Stadium has been named after Coach Beamer.
Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va
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.
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.