A Fan's Dream
by Andy Turnbull, 12/6/01

The voice of the fan. The voice of the fans. One voice. 53,622 fans. If there was ever any doubt that Blacksburg is a merciless place to play before Saturday Öthe fans answered that question definitively against Miami.

I donít claim to know what the players feel when 55,000 fans are screaming at them with one goal in mind, but it sure makes me feel like taking on Mike Tyson without earmuffs. And let me tell you, I could have used earmuffs when Eric Green got his hands on the third blocked punt of his career. It was such a cacophony of elation that Iím sure I heard an echo off the Appalachian mountains a couple of minutes later. Ears were rapidly rendered useless, as I was only able to watch the unadulterated joy of the guys on the field, of crazed fans all around me, and vividly picture the abundance of suddenly empty couches across the country. Iím not quite sure how long it lasted and I couldnít begin to tell you how many times I left my feet but it was a fantastic realization of a fanís dream.

Between working full time and taking classes, the amount of time I have to devote to my beloved Hokies is far below my desire. As a result, I have only made it to two games (I find it ironic that I was colder watching Connecticut in August then watching Miami in December) so whenever I can make it, itís a colossal treat. But itís not because I can actually see a receiver break open down the field long before the camera wanders its way there nor is it because I can see the dreadful pass interference calls by the Foot Locker recruits without a replay. But itís because my living room, usually populated with one or two other people, a bowl of Tostitos, an oversized green couch, and more remotes than I care to admit, suddenly expands to include 10,000 hard wooden benches open to the elements (cough, Georgia Tech, cough), all populated by the loudest, most rabid, most loyal fans this side of the rings of Saturn. But itís also because Hokie fans never give up.

Every time the defense came on the field Saturday, the fans stood up, arms outstretched, and yelled just as loud as if their arm had been broken. Every time the TV guy walked off the field, or Miami just finished up one of their crowd-induced timeouts, the crowd would pick up just where they left off. Itís almost like they were responding to the volume dial on a celestial orange and maroon colored stereoÖ Even when it was 20 to 3 and the offense hadnít shown more life than Strom Thurmond at a bachelor party, the crowd never stopped believing.

From 5 minutes before kickoff to 5 minutes after the game ending penalty, the stands were filled to the brim with maroon. No one left; even after it seemed the game was out of reach. The difference is we always believed the Hokies could beat Miami, but we didnít expect to. Miami expected to beat us, and they nearly watched their MNC hopes slip away like a Democratís election chances in Florida. That is the key. Once we begin expecting our team to accomplish a goal rather than believing in them to reach that plateau, we lose the magic I heard in every Hokieís strained voice this past weekend. Faith is stronger than expectation. And if the fans donít believe that their team can pull off the extraordinary, the players wonít either.

In the words of the English essayist, William Hazlitt, "If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory." As a Hokie fan as in life, you canít expect to achieve the impossible but you can believe in it.


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