I can barely feel my toes, and I’m wishing I’d grabbed an extra sweatshirt before leaving the house. I’ve just spent entirely too much money on an 8″ pepperoni pizza and a Diet Pepsi in a souvenir Cavaliers cup I have no intention of keeping, and the November sun is blinding me as I squint at the field.
It’s one of my favorite days of the year.
It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I’m watching my Hokies round out the football season with their 10th consecutive victory over the Hoos.
Everyone is so bundled up at the game that it’s hard to tell who’s who. There are easily as many Hokies as Wahoos in the stands, and the navy blue and maroon are ironically indistinguishable from across the stadium, so we all just blend into a sea of orange.
The two sets of fans in my nosebleed section next to Tech’s Marching Virginians mostly ignore one another, but we all exchange exasperated looks when a dozen players get into a scuffle on the field during the second quarter and have to be pulled apart by the refs. Every person in the stadium wants a win so badly we can taste it. But as someone who’s been told to fuck off for wearing an orange and maroon shirt while visiting another university on game day, I’m oddly heartened by the lack of hostility and the feeling that, despite the palpable competition and rivalry, we’re all here for the same reason—to watch the Hokies win again.
I’m seated next to a good-natured couple who met at Tech in 1982, and in front of me is a straight-postured row of silver-haired Wahoos in blue and orange windbreakers who have clearly been attending these games for decades. I can’t help but roll my eyes when they stand and sway with their arms around one another, singing “The Good Old Song” after every UVA score, but I doubt they appreciate our drumline-led “H-O-K-I-E-S HOKIES!” cheer after every first down, either.
I’m obviously in the minority in this town, but there’s no shortage of Tech fans in Charlottesville. Just last week I found myself chatting about my alma mater with a 1992 graduate while waiting in line at Bodo’s, and it’s rare that I get through the day without spotting at least one car with a VT sticker. We may get put in the corner on game days at Buffalo Wild Wings and endure comments like “Don’t you know you’re in the wrong town?” but the feeling of camaraderie with my fellow Charlottesville Hokies makes living in rival territory a little more bearable.
I’ll be the first to admit that it was a terrible game and, frankly, neither team was particularly deserving of the win. But I’ve been bleeding orange and maroon for as long as I can remember, and as a Hokie in Hooville, nothing’s warmed my heart this season quite like singing “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” with a couple thousand of my closest friends as the clock counted down the final seconds of the 16-6 game.
Until next year, Hoos.