Will's Going to Camp ... The Story
by Tom Beam, 11/7/03

A small ceremony occurred in lot 3 at 5 pm last Saturday afternoon that marked the end of a relatively quiet "behind the scenes" campaign to raise the funds necessary to pay the "tuition" for Will to attend Frank Beamerís Fantasy Football Camp next July. It was a project that was initiated back in July, right after the Fantasy Football Camp was announced on Beamerball.com:

Frank Beamer's Fantasy Football Camp

The project started when Nova Hokie 95 made a casual post on the football board, something to the effect, "Why donít we send Will?"

Seemed like a good idea to me, so I e-mailed a few folks and bounced the idea off of them, got a rousing response, so I decided to go for it! Through the technological magic of e-mail, the campaign was begun. It took off like a house afire, and in less than two weeks, I had pledges for over $1,000. Numerous e-mail discussions ensued about how to get the word out without alerting Will that something was going on. It was decided that Bay Island Hokie would post an announcement on the boards during the aTm game, linking to a page on Russianís website with all the information about the "Will to Camp Campaign", the name the project quickly adopted. We would then have Russian "dismantle" the page before Will got home that evening, thus rendering the link unusable, and thus Will would be none the wiser.

Great plan, except for a little hurricane named Isabel! Bay Island had to evacuate his home that night, so the fall back was to have my wife make the post with the link, since I was going to be at the game. That would have worked just fine, however the electricity went out at our house just after aTm had their noise induced timeout on their first play from scrimmage. Oh well, a great idea, but just not executed very well.

Things slowed a bit then, but over the next month, the TSL faithful came through. I had pledges for the $3,000 and Willís going to Camp!!!!

It was then decided to make the presentation to Will prior to the Miami game, but now the question was, how can we be sure to get him to the tailgate and let folks know about it as well? Thatís when we decided to run a "misdirection" play with the help of the Ladies of TSL. They came through with flying colors, with their "Halloween" extravaganza charade as a way to get folks over to lot 3 for the presentation prior to the Miami walk.

It should be noted that Willís lovely wife, Nan, was in on the deal from the beginning. We had to make sure Will didnít plan some fancy ocean cruise for the weekend of the Camp next July. She also was instrumental in getting him to lot 3, since Will, being the party animal he is, was making the rounds of tailgates on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

So with the sun setting on the afternoon of November 1, the TSL faithful drifted on over to lot 3, and at 5 pm I asked for everyoneís attention. I mumbled something about in the spirit of the Halloween season we had pulled a trick on folks, and now it was time for a treat. Calling Will to come forward, I presented him with his present, a beautiful plaque Beach Hokie had created for the presentation, wrapped in burnt orange paper, with Chicago maroon ribbon. As he was opening it, I glanced up at Nan to see beautiful tears of joy running down her cheeks. Will at this time had the paper off the plaque and was reading it. The look on his face was priceless, he was absolutely stunned!

The festivities did not end at this point, however. I had actually received pledges for more than the $3000 needed to send Will to camp, enough so that we are also sending Nan to the Ladies Football Clinic next July as well! Needless to say, she was equally surprised. Congratulations and applause from all the TSLíers in attendance followed to Will and Nan, with Russian and UberHokie taking pictures. Even the folks that tailgate near us participated in the applause.

With that, the Hokie faithful headed over to the Walk, and then into the stands to witness the "Mauling of Miami." What a great day!

I want to thank everyone who supported the project. Asking folks for money is one thing I absolutely hate to do, but the Will to Camp Campaign was a worthwhile project, and made the "beggin" a lot easier. We had a total of about 56 folks who contributed, including 16 Hokies who ponied up $100 each. Give yourselves a well deserved round of applause!

Go Hokies!!

Tom Beam

Message from Will:

First of all, things went so well for you guys because I'm completely clueless (notice I said I am clueless, not I was clueless). I knew something was up, because I had seen some "PSA" on the board that I was told to stay away from, and Tom sure seemed to want me there in lot 3 at a specific time.

But, wow, a $3,000 gift? With all those people standing there staring at me, I nearly fell into my Sally Field routine and shouted, "You like me! You really, really like me!"

The camp is going to be very cool, though I do have to figure out some way to avoid playing the golf part of the weekend, so I don't ruin everyone else's good time, or worse yet, hurt someone. No one wants to golf with a guy who shoots 160 on a good day. I can two-putt from anywhere on a green -- it's the 15 or 16 strokes getting from the tee to the green that run my score up.

But I digress (you can see I have an irrational fear of golf). Beyond the monetary value of the gift, and beyond the cool gift itself, I was Ö taken aback that people would do something like that for me.

In the old days, Hokie Central, which later became TechSideline.com, was a cozy little group, and there was a lot of camaraderie among me and its members. But as the site transitioned from a hobby to a business, and as it grew larger and larger, until you could finally see it from space without the aid of a telescope, I feared that I was growing apart from all of you. In our constant effort to sell, sell, sell, be it subscriptions, T-shirts, or sponsorships -- things that are all necessary if we want to survive -- I wondered if the personal touch was being lost.

To me, the gift of the fantasy football camp will always represent not just the cool stuff I'll get, or a chance to mingle with the VT coaches a little bit. That stuff will all fade with time. But I will never forget the moment that I realized that so many people had done so much work, and had given so much -- 16 people gave a hundred dollars each, and 56 people in all donated? -- to do something nice for me. I'm not sure what it is I've done to deserve such a thing, but I'm pleased to know that as TechSideline.com and Hokie athletics in general have grown so large, that the personal touch is still there.

Because ultimately, behind the wins and losses and the dollar signs, it's the people that matter. The players felt it when you all participated in The Walk last Saturday, and I felt it when that group gathered in the parking lot to give me such a generous gift. It was a gracious thing to do, and I thank you all for making a special day -- VT's victory over #2 Miami -- that much more special.

Your humbled servant in Hokie athletics, and everyone's biggest nightmare on a golf course,

-- Will


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