After some people graduate college, they may never set foot on their campus again. They may reminisce about their experiences to their friends and children and look at old pictures of themselves, and that’ll be the end of it. This isn’t the case for the Bennett family. Their connection to Virginia Tech goes back 30 years, and they seem to become more and more connected to the university as time goes on.
Scott and Julie Bennett started dating in high school. Scott was a senior and Julie was a freshman. Scott and Julie were in chorus together but really got to know each other because Julie’s former boyfriend’s older sister had a crush on Scott, and Julie would act as a wing woman for her friend. But one night, her former boyfriend’s sister wasn’t able to come to one of the functions. This was the night that sparks flew between Scott and Julie.
“(At) one of the functions she got called into work and she couldn't go, but I still went with some friends, and so Scott and I talked, and I came home from that and I called (my boyfriend’s) sister and I said, ‘I can't be your go-between anymore because I think he's getting the wrong messages. I think he's starting to like me because I'm the one communicating all this, and it's missing the whole factor of you like him instead of me,’” Julie said. “And she was like, ‘Hey, it didn't work. If you want to go out with him, (then go) out with him.’”
Julie and her boyfriend ended their relationship, and Julie got closer to Scott. Julie didn’t want to get into another relationship right away, but she used Scott’s senior status to her advantage. Since Julie wasn’t old enough to have her license, Scott would give her rides home from cheerleading practice, and the two got to know each other for the rest of the school year.
Scott and Julie went on their first date the night Scott graduated high school, and they dated for the rest of the summer. Julie tried to break it off with Scott so he could be single when he entered college, but he wasn’t having it. Scott and Julie dated for seven years while Scott was a student at Virginia Tech and Julie attended UVA. They married shortly after Julie graduated on June 18, 1994.
After Scott graduated from Virginia Tech in 1991, the Bennett family was tied to the university. They lived in Christiansburg while Julie attended graduate school at Tech. Although Julie went to UVA, the Bennetts’ connection to Virginia Tech was stronger, even when they attended a UVA football game in 1999.
“(We saw the winning) Michael Vick touchdown against West Virginia. We watched that on the jumbotron at Scott Stadium because we had gone there for the UVA, Georgia Tech game,” Scott said. “The Tech, West Virginia game was just finishing up at Tech, and Tech was losing, so they put it up on the jumbotron for all the UVA fans to root against Tech. Then Michael Vick scurries down the sideline and gets us in field goal position and we win the game at the last second. It was so awesome being the one guy there cheering that on. Everybody else was just so dejected.”
When the Bennetts attended the game, Julie was pregnant with their first child, Sierra. Sierra is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in childhood pre-education and a cheerleader. They also have a son, Caleb, who is a senior in high school.
“(Sierra and I) went during her spring break senior year or junior year for a tour … And she said, every time she went on campus, it felt like home. That was actually one of her interview questions when she was trying out for cheer,” Julie said. “They asked her, ‘Why do you want to be a Hokie, or why'd you want to come to Virginia Tech?’ And she said every time (she) came to campus, it just felt like home. And they're like, ‘Oh yeah, you read the banner (in Cassel) on the way here?’ She had no idea what they were talking about. It was funny.”
After Sierra decided to attend Virginia Tech, she attended orientation that summer. Sierra and Julie were on the Drillfield trying to get in touch with Scott so they could see them on the Burruss webcam. While they were waiting for Scott to answer their calls, they walked to Burruss where a bunch of police officers were. One of the police officers walked up to Julie and Sierra and asked if they would like to be in the VTPD lip sync music video. Julie and Sierra said yes, and they were led to a bus where they saw a few familiar faces.
“We walk on the bus, and Sierra gets on the bus and keeps walking, and she goes and sits down, and I (gasp) and I didn’t let her keep walking. Cause I grabbed her arm. I said, ‘Sierra, that’s Frank Beamer,’” Julie said.
Frank Beamer was driving the bus while Tim Sands, the HokieBird, the Bennetts and a few others were passengers.
“I sat almost across from the HokieBird, and Sierra’s in the very back of the bus. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, (Scott) is going to die,’” Julie said.
Even after 30 years, the Bennett family is still tied to Virginia Tech. After football games, kids and music videos, the family is still connected to the university. This just goes to show that Virginia Tech really is home to the Bennetts and so many other Hokies.