A sea of orange and maroon greets you and the aroma of turkey legs are in the air. The Blue Ridge Mountains are visible, peaking between the stadium seating. It is Hokie game day. This scene is where you will make some of your greatest memories as a member of Hokie Nation. In order to fully immerse yourself in the experience of a football game in Lane Stadium, it is important to participate in and understand the traditions honored during the course of the game.
The most legendary part of a Hokie football game is the iconic entrance of the players. When Metallica's song and Virginia Tech’s anthem “Enter Sandman” starts blasting throughout the stadium, it is imperative that every student and fan start jumping. This tradition ends with the continuation of singing the lyrics well after the music has stopped playing. This song has been used at all home games since 2000 and is played before basketball games at Cassell as well.
Not long after the excitement of singing your lungs out, comes the next Hokie tradition. A chant of “we’re ready . . . we’re ready . . . we’re ready for y’all.” starts to play. Students and fans all put their arms around one another's shoulders and begin swaying back and forth. This all leads up to the highly anticipated kickoff.
The rest of the game is filled with other rituals that culminate the unique game day experience. The loudest part of the game is the Skipper, a cannon that is fired during opening ceremonies and every time the Hokies score. The blast sparks even more excitement from the crowd, electrifying the energy in Lane.
The downs of football are part of the excitement of the game, but mixed with Virginia Tech tradition these milestones are even more enjoyable. Third-down plays and their importance are laminated with the “key play” routine. This is when all of the fans take out their keys, hold them high in the air, and shake them until the play is complete. First-downs are celebrated with a specific chant. The letters “H-O-K-I-E-S” are spelled out followed by the shouting of the word “Hokies!”
Other important moments of the game are marked with distinctive rituals as well, such as when the players are in the red zone. “Stick it in!” is yelled by all of the fans in attendance, encouraging the team to score. At the end of the third quarter the infamous “Hokey Pokey” song is played and fans are encouraged to dance. The famous “Let’s Go Hokies” is divided into a chant between the east and west sections of the stadium.
Some traditions surrounding the Virginia Tech football team are symbols and require no participation from fans other than cheering. One of these, the metal lunch pail, is a representation of the “blue collar defense” that Hokie football players aspire to. This was started by defensive coordinator Bud Foster. The iconic lunch pail will usually be seen on the video board in pre-game productions.
Game day in Blacksburg is like no other sporting event in the nation. The excitement that fills Lane Stadium before and during the game is unmatchable. Virginia Tech relies on fan participation to make this possible, and every season Hokie Nation delivers.
Virginia Tech and its fans are currently awaiting the announcement from the NCAA which will determine the fate of the Hokies’ 2020-21 football season. COVID-19 will affect how Tech conducts normal campus operations in the fall and may leave its mark on game day as well. These exciting traditions that take place at games could likely look very different this football season if the Hokies play.