Virginia Tech’s healing through sports

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BLACKBURG, Va. Apr. 11 – Head Coach Charles “Chugger” Adair talks to his team during practice held inside Virginia Tech’s Indoor Practice Facility. The team wore black arm-bands to honor those lost on April 16th. Photo: Conor Doherty

by Conor Doherty–

In the hours and days following April 16, many weren’t certain how Virginia Tech and the community could begin down the long road of healing and regain some semblance of normalcy. When tragedy strikes, people turn to the things they are familiar with and for the members of Hokie Nation, sports was that familiarity.

The baseball team hosted the Miami Hurricanes and while the Hokies lost, the healing process had begun. Now ten years later, the team gets to show their respects again this upcoming Saturday against the University of Virginia. On First Responder Appreciation Day, the Hokies will take the field with special decals on their uniforms and helmets to honor the ten year anniversary.

However, the baseball team isn’t the only sports team at this school that will continue to honor the memories of those lost on April 16.

When playing in-season and during practice, the women’s soccer team wear black armbands as a symbol of the losses suffered that day. All of the players weren’t even in high school when the shooting occurred but they know that it is important to never forget about the past. Although the players were not even in high school yet, they know that it is important to never forget about the past.

“They’ve worn it [arm bands] for years, and its something that they have passed from team to team and its part of our culture that they kind of do it as they go,” head coach Charles “Chugger,” Adair explained. “I think for the players, it’s subtle, but yet, empowering that they have that and they can remember, kind of what Virginia Tech is about and about the previous people that have been here and been a part of the university and part of the culture. It’s empowering to them to see that and understand that it’s more than just them as a soccer team and more than a student body.”

While wearing arm-bands and decals show how impactful April 16 was on the campus, it also shows the resilient spirit of this community and university. The school and its sports teams won’t ever be able to fully get out from under the shadow April 16 casts upon this campus, but these teams can lessen that shadow. Through their hard work, dedication and love for their teammates, their school and all of Hokie Nation, they can ensure that Hokie Spirit will continue to live on.

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