The text that ushered in a new era of Virginia Tech football

By | 28/08/2022

On October ane, 1872, Addison “Add” Caldwell walked 26 miles from Craig County to enroll equally the first pupil at Virginia Agronomical and Mechanical College. E’er since then, Virginia Tech has been fulfilling its function every bit a leading land-grant university. The tiny college, originally housed in the old Olin and Preston Institute most what is now Alumni Mall, has grown into a globe-form university.

Discover Virginia Tech’southward rich history and traditions through our heritage equally a leading academy from 1872 to the present.

  • What is a “Hokie”?

  • Colors and mascot

  • Athletics traditions

  • The Corps of Cadets

  • Campus buildings and memorials

  • Motto, seal, and logos

  • More history

What is a “Hokie”?

In the 1890s, a pupil named O.M. Stull, Course of 1896, won a $5 prize for coming up with a new spirit cheer, now known every bit “Former Hokie.” The original went:

Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy.
Techs, Techs, Five.P.I.
Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah.
Polytechs – Vir-gin-ia.
Rae, Ri, Five.P.I.

Later, an “e” was added to “Hoki” to make “Hokie,” and “Team! Squad! Team!” was attached to the end.

What’s in a name?

Meaning academic changes in 1896 ushered in a new proper noun more befitting the academy’s college profile — Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Establish, commonly known equally Virginia Polytechnic Institute, or VPI.

  • 1944:
    The shortened Virginia Polytechnic Institute became the official proper noun.
  • 1970:
    The Virginia General Assembly bestowed university status, and the formal proper name of the university became Virginia Polytechnic Constitute and State Academy.
  • Today:
    Virginia Tech is the academy’due south official nickname, used in all but the most formal situations.

Colors and mascot

Virginia Tech colors

During 1896, a committee was formed to find a suitable combination of colors to replace the original colors of blackness and greyness, which made athletic uniforms resemble prison garb. The committee selected burnt orange and Chicago maroon considering no other college was using that detail colour combination.

Burnt orangish and Chicago maroon was first worn during a football game against Roanoke Higher on October 26, 1896.

Virginia Tech mascot: From Gobbler to HokieBird

Hokies were once called “Gobblers,” a nickname whose origin is widely disputed. One story claims it resulted from the manner student athletes would “gobble” upwardly their food.

The name was already pop when Floyd Meade, a local resident, trained a large turkey to pull a cart at a football game in 1913. Throughout the years, trained turkeys would continue to gobble on control and perform stunts. In 1962, a student raised $200 for a costume; the upshot was an unusual turkey with a fundamental-like caput, known every bit the Gobbler then the Fighting Gobbler.

Floyd Meade with the VPI Mascot in 1921

When the Gobbler nickname roughshod out of favor, student George Wills sketched new designs for a class projection. The updated mascot appeared at a football game in September 1981. The electric current HokieBird, which conveys power and strength, debuted in September 1987.

Did you know?
Students who dress as the HokieBird remain anonymous until offset, when they reveal their clandestine by wearing HokieBird feet during the procession into Lane Stadium.

Athletic traditions

Fight song

“Tech Triumph,” the academy’s most popular fight vocal, was composed in 1919 by Wilfred P. Maddux (Course of 1920) and his neighbour, Mattie Eppes. Information technology was officially adopted by the student torso in December 1919.

Techmen, we’re Techmen, with spirit true and faithful,
Backing upwardly our teams with hopes undying;
Techmen, oh, Techmen, we’re out to win today,
Showing “pep” and life with which we’re trying;
V.P., old V.P., you know our hearts are with you
In our luck which never seems to dice;
Win or lose, we’ll greet yous with a glad returning,
You’re the pride of V.P.I.


Just sentinel our men so big and active
Back up the Orange and Maroon. Allow’s become Techs.
We know our ends and backs are stronger,
With winning hopes, nosotros fear defeat no longer.
To see our team plow through the line, boys.
Determined now to win or die:
So requite a Hokie, Hokie, Hokie, Hy,
Rae, Ri, sometime V.P.I.

“Alma Mater”

The “Alma Mater” was built-in in spring 1939 when Ernest T. Sparks (Class of 1940) composed music and L.G. Chase (Class of 1941) wrote lyrics for a pupil contest.


Sing praise to Alma Mater dear,
For Five.P.I. we’ll always cheer;
Come up lift your voices, keen the vocal,
Our loyalties to her belong.


And so stand up and sing, all hail to thee.
VT, all hail to thee.


The Orange and Maroon yous see,
That’south fighting on to victory;
Our strife will not exist long this day,
For glory lies inside this fray.


All loyal sons and daughters, one,
Nosotros raise our banner to the sun;
Our motto brings a spirit true,
That we may ever serve you.

“Enter Sandman”

Written and recorded by the heavy metal band Metallica, “Enter Sandman” has been played in Lane Stadium since 2000 as the football team enters the field. The tradition of students jumping upwardly and downward during the song started on Dec one, 2001, when a Marching Virginians band fellow member started jumping during the song and was joined by his colleagues. The tradition eventually spread to the basketball game teams’ entrances in Cassell Coliseum.

The luncheon pail

The famed Virginia Tech luncheon pail symbolizes the blue-neckband approach of the Hokies’ football defense, developed past assistant caput coach and defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Foster’south Lunch Pail Defense Foundation provides scholarships for high school students from the New River and Roanoke valleys, besides as assisting the families of those awaiting organ transplants.

The lunch pail

In 1995, the original lunch pail was acquired past the mother-in-law of co-defensive coordinator Rod Sharpless. The pail once belonged to a coal miner, and afterward the tape-setting defensive season, the luncheon pail became an iconic chemical element of the Hokie football lore. The battered and rusting pail, which now contains the names of the 32 Hokies who died in the tragedy on April 16, 2007, travels wherever the Hokies go, and its care is entrusted to a defensive leader.

Game-Ball Run

Ranger Company, the Army ROTC company, has performed the Game-Ball Run every year since 1977, although the tradition likely originated with the Virginia Tech-VMI football games years before that.

Members of Ranger Company run the game ball for 100 miles effectually campus during the calendar week of the annual homecoming football game and so agree a ceremony the twenty-four hours of the game, which includes running the brawl into the stadium.

Firing cannons: Skipper

At a football game against Virginia Military Establish (VMI), two cadets from the Grade of 1964 fabricated a pact that they would build a cannon to outshine — or outblast — VMI’s “Little John.” The cadets, Homer Hadley “Sonny” Hickam (of “October Sky” fame) and Alton B. “Butch” Harper Jr., collected brass from fellow cadets and added it to metal provided past Hickam’s father. On its kickoff firing, the eager cadets tripled the charge, which blew the hats off one-half the VMI Keydets and shook the glass in the pressbox windows of Roanoke’s Victory Stadium.

Skipper cannon

“Skipper” is named for President John F. Kennedy, who had been a PT-gunkhole skipper. Today, Skipper is fired at football games and for other notable occasions.

More athletics history

The first known organized competition against an off-campus team occurred in 1877 when the VAMC baseball game squad, which probably included townspeople, played Roanoke College and won past a tape score of 53-13.

The commencement effort to formalize athletic activities came in fall 1891 when the VAMC Athletic Association was established. The following year, a football team and tennis association were added. In one long-running and affectionately remembered football game tradition, Tech played VMI in Roanoke on Thanksgiving Day for nearly 75 years.

Women finally joined the athletics fold in 1970 with a pond team. Women’s basketball game followed in 1972.

The Hokies accept been a member of several conferences over the years. They joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. NCAA Division I-A men’s varsity sports at Tech are football, basketball, baseball, soccer, indoor and outdoor track, swimming and diving, wrestling, tennis, golf, and cross land. Women’s varsity sports are basketball, tennis, volleyball, swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track, soccer, softball, lacrosse, golf, and cross state.

The Student-Athlete Operation Center benefits recruiting, nutrition, and performance for all 22 varsity sports. And in 2021-22 bookish yr, over 350 of the university’s student-athletes earned GPAs in a higher place 3.0.

Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets

Our oldest tradition

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets became official in the 1890s, drawing from the university’due south origin in 1872 and its required armed services training for students. As the university changed and innovated, then did the corps. Mandated four-year participation in the corps for all males changed to two years in 1923 — the same year women were beginning admitted — then participation became voluntary in 1964.

Members of the Corps of Cadets cheer during a football game

Today, Virginia Tech is one of 3 public universities in the country with both an active corps of cadets and a “civilian” lifestyle on its campus.

Upper Quad

Centered in Virginia Tech’s early on history, the university’s Upper Quad has long been the dwelling house of the Corps of Cadets. Lane Hall, completed in 1888, is a state and national historic landmark originally known as Billet No. i. In front of the hall is an orange and maroon sidewalk that forms the largest “VT” on campus.

In recent updates, Pearson and New Cadet halls have replaced older cadet residence halls, and a new plaza between the halls displays the Corps’ monuments, honoring those who take served in the past and nowadays.

Marching in memory of Caldwell

The Corps of Cadets pay homage to the academy’s beginnings and celebrate the progress of first-year cadets by retracing the walk Add Caldwell took from Craig County. Cadets cover the first xiii miles in the fall and the 2d 13 miles in the jump to mark the stop to the first year of grooming.

Campus buildings and memorials

Hokie Rock

Virginia Tech exhibits its character and pride every day via its buildings, most of which are made of Hokie Stone, a limestone common in Southwest Virginia. It was start used in campus building structure in 1899, and today, all new primal campus buildings must deport the distinctive stone.

Hokie Stone on Eggleston Hall

Hewed by hand and varying from grays, browns, and blacks to pinks, oranges, and maroons, no two stones are the same color. Since the mid-1950s, the university has operated its own quarry.

The Pylons and War Memorial Chapel

One of the nearly important and symbolic structures on campus, The Pylons higher up War Memorial Chapel bear the names of every Virginia Tech student and graduate who died defending our nation’due south freedom, beginning with those lost during World War I. The Pylons evoke Virginia Tech’due south core values. From left to right, they correspond Brotherhood, Honor, Leadership, Sacrifice, Service, Loyalty, Duty, and Ut Prosim.

The War Memorial Pylons

At the memorial’s center, the cairn displays the names of Virginia Tech’s seven Medal of Accolade recipients.

April sixteen Memorial

The April 16 Memorial, located on the Drillfield, remembers the 32 university community members who lost their lives on April 16, 2007.

Day of Remembrance vigil

The Hokie Stone symbolizes our relentless spirit, our backbone to motion forward, and our decision never to forget.

Gargoyles and grotesques

Their hunched bodies and contorted faces are the stuff of Hokie fable. At to the lowest degree fifteen “gargoyles” at Virginia Tech fit right into our neo-Gothic architecture. And for some students, finding every one of them before graduation is a rite of passage.

Functional gargoyles are waterspouts that move water away from the roof of a building. So while the “cowgoyles” of Saunders Hall might not part as waterspouts, they are a dear decorative element.

List of known gargoyles:

  • 4 Eggleston Hall
  • 4 Hillcrest Hall
  • three Smyth Hall
  • iv Saunders Hall

Virginia Tech motto, seal, and logos

In 1896, the academy adopted Ut Prosim, Latin for “That I May Serve,” as its motto, and a higher seal was developed. The Virginia Tech Lath of Visitors did not officially prefer the seal, which is however used, until 1963.

Virginia Tech seal

In 1991, Virginia Tech adopted a academy logo, which incorporates an image of the War Memorial with its eight pylons, each representing a different virtue.

The inclusion of the numerals “1872,” the founding year of the university, reinforces the traditions of more than a century of service to the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the earth.

In 2017, a new brand platform and accompanying logo were launched. The new Virginia Tech marking is grounded in tradition, nonetheless focused on the future. The lettering reflects our VT-shaped educational feel.

The vertical bar of the T represents disciplinary depth, while the horizontal bar reflects the ability to work beyond disciplines. The arms of the Five represent experiential learning and the spirit of Ut Prosim. The logo’s openness and shape highlight Virginia Tech’southward identity as an inclusive customs that thrives at the intersection of disciplines.


The academy also has an athletic logo: a streamlined “VT,” which is used but for sports and sports merchandise. Unveiled in 1984, the athletic logo is a composite of designs submitted by two Virginia Tech students to a contest sponsored by the academy’southward art department.

More Virginia Tech history

Firming and edifice the foundations

John 1000. McBryde
laid the foundations for modern-mean solar day Virginia Tech in the 1890s, including the evolution of B.Due south. degrees and graduate written report, granting permanent status for the Corps of Cadets, and starting the athletics program. McBryde and his son likewise developed the university’due south motto:
Ut Prosim
(That I May Serve).

T. Marshall Hahn Jr.
transformed VPI from higher status to a major research university in the 1960s and 1970s. He championed the development of a academy teaching and led the motility to create the enquiry division. The pupil body tripled, and eight residence halls and 10 other major facilities were added.

Charles W. Steger
expertly guided the university’s growth and scope during the first xiv years of the 2000s. Research funding and private fundraising increased. He established the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Found and a school of biomedical engineering. He was a visionary leader for the Moss Arts Center and in elevating Virginia Tech’s presence in Northern Virginia.

That “huge” Virginia Tech band

Colleges across the country offer students the chance to buy a class ring, but very few annually redesign the ring to be unique to each class. This tradition began at Virginia Tech in 1911-12, and the resulting band always invokes memories, traditions, and pride.

Each twelvemonth, the sophomore class selects a Band Committee to design their ring collection, which always includes the screaming eagle, American flag, campus buildings, and an interlocking chain around the bezel. From there, the Ring Commission incorporates characteristics unique to its course.

Since 1934, couples have exchanged rings at the Virginia Tech Band Dance to the tune of “Moonlight and VPI,” written specifically for the Ring Trip the light fantastic by composer Fred Waring and lyricist Charles Gaynor.