Sports world reaches out, helps Virginia Tech cope


Sports world reaches out, helps Virginia Tech cope


"I belong."

I still remember vividly that emotion as I stood outside Burress Hall overlooking the gorgeous, expansive view of the Virginia Tech campus on a cool, sunny morning back in the spring of 1990. It was college-tour season for graduating high-school seniors, and I had found my home for the next four years.

The tragedy this past week has only deepened and strengthened my affection for the university. Once a Hokie, always a Hokie.

A lot has been vocalized and written by alumni, students, friends, business leaders, politicians, athletes, the media -- really anyone with a shred of a tie to Blacksburg -- about how tranquil and safe and welcoming the campus and surrounding community has always been. And they are not exaggerating.

Virginia Tech and the city of Blacksburg are synonymous. Graduates own local businesses. Former students now teach. Former athletes now coach.

This part of the country used to be just Hokie Nation -- now it is Hokie Nationwide.

The nationwide reaction to this senseless tragedy has also crystallized for me how in a time of grief -- even if just for a few, fragile hours -- sports provides an outlet and plays a role on the road to recovery. The outpouring of support has raised school spirits during this dark time.

I applaud the Washington Nationals for donning Virginia Tech caps during their game Tuesday, caps that will now take a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame next to its 9/11 memorial.

I applaud NASCAR for placing memorial, VT logo decals on the cars, especially given the deep roots many of the teams and drivers have with that region of the country.

I applaud Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick -- arguably the most popular and well-known athlete ever to wear a Virginia Tech jersey -- for his generous donation to the university for the victims families.

And I applaud coach Frank Beamer for his cancellation of the traditional Maroon and White Football game. He is a class act, emphasizing the need to heal before you hooray -- and I guarantee you this fall when the first few cords of Enter Sandman blare throughout Lane Stadium for the opening home game of the season, those tears you see will once again be for joy.

But for now we work to dry the tears of sorrow, knowing that Virginia Tech and its local and extended community will never be the same. This could have happened to anyone, in any town, at any school, at any time -- but it happened at my school, where not so long ago I was the one walking across campus to Norris Hall for class. And while I did not personally know any of the victims, the entire Hokie Nation has been victimized.

And now, as the entire world watches, the international community is realizing that Hokie resolve is as strong as the stone that bares its name -- stone that has been used for more than 130 years to build the campus and community.

The memories and images of this tragic event will forever scar, and we will never forget, but my personal resolve to one day have my children stand on those same steps outside Burress Hall as I did has not wavered.

We are Virginia Tech.

Elliott Gordon graduated Virginia Tech in 1994. He was NASCAR.COM's Director of Programming from 2001-2006.


As posted on NASCAR.COM on April 20th, 2007:
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Elliott Gordon




Elliott Gordon




Elliott Gordon, “Sports world reaches out, helps Virginia Tech cope,” The April 16 Archive, accessed May 27, 2024,