🏃‍♀️ Guest Post: Deb from Deb Runs, on What it Means to be a Hokie

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My school was so apathetic back in my day.

UNC Charlotte was a commuter school under construction. We didn’t have football. We played basketball off-campus. We were the dumb little brother to UNC-Chapel Hill. Kids would rather stay home and watch the ACC on TV than go to games.

Now, people care on campus, and in the community.

When I see people wearing green and gold, I can say, “GO NINERS!” and I’ll get a woot-woot or a fist bump. It’s kind of awesome. We have a long way to go, though, to have traditions like some schools. Such as Virginia Tech.

You might know Deb for her blog, Deb Runs, especially if you’re a runnin’ mama. 

She’s a frequent contributor to 6 Words posts. She mows down the runner miles the way I attack quesadillas. It’s really the same thing. You’ll love her tales about miles conquered and other adventures.

She’s here on the CD today to tell us about her school, Virginia Tech. I’m a little jealous. More tradition, less construction. More memories, less apathy. We’ll get there, Niners. The way Deb describes it … I can’t wait.

# # #

When Eli generously invited me to write a guest post for Coach Daddy, I was initially intimidated; I mean, Coach has got some big cleats to fill!  But then when he suggested I write about what it’s really like to be a Hokie, I wrote from wonderful memories and from my heart.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!  Thanks, Eli, for allowing me to share something I’m so passionate about.

Before I jump into what it’s like to be a Hokie, Let me explain what a Hokie is.  The word hoki was made up in 1896 in a contest when a student came up with a cheer for our newly renamed school, Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  The cheer has had a few minor changes over the years, including the spelling of the word hoki, but it has remained a staple at our school.


So if Hokie is a made-up word, why does our mascot resemble a turkey? In the early 1900′s, the football team became known as the fighting gobblers, but at this point, it’s hard to tell what is a legend and what is the truth. The only thing that is known for sure is that a fan brought his gobbler to games in the early 1900′s and paraded him up and down the field. Over the years our mascot has changed from a gobbler to the cuddly, huggable Hokie Bird we all love.




Now that you know a little of the “history” of how the Hokies came to be, let me answer Eli’s question posed to me, “What’s it really like to be a Hokie?”  That’s easy, “It’s the most amazing thing in the world!”  Oops, sorry, Eli.  So you want more than that?  Let me elaborate.

Being a Hokie is…

Having your heart dance when you get to Exit 118 on Interstate 81,
and knowing you’re almost home.

Knowing  you look like a million bucks wearing maroon and orange,
and daring anyone to suggest otherwise.


Having pride knowing that young Hokies
are working hard to Invent the Future.

Meeting fellow Hokie runners at 5 AM on the Huckleberry Trail
before setting up your tailgate,
so you can hang out for at least three hours before kickoff.

Owning an 8-foot tall inflatable Hokie Bird,
and searching for a second one for your friend to buy,
because you can never have too many 8-foot tall Hokie Birds at your tailgate!


Connecting with old college friends that know way too much about you,
and being nervous introducing them to your children.

Spending Saturday afternoons jumping in Lane Stadium to Enter Sandman
with 66,000 of your closest friends!

Visiting the Duck Pond,
and remembering making out with your boyfriend (now husband) there.


Knowing Bud Foster would make an amazing head coach at another university,
but being thankful he’s happy staying as our assistant football coach.

Feeling proud knowing
that your fellow Hokies are serving our country.


Proudly knowing that job recruiters rank Virginia Tech graduates
among the most desirable employees.

Having a Hokie Stone bar in your basement,
because it makes your parties more fun and your drinks taste better.


Knowing that Hokies alum all around our country
are active in their local alumni chapters.

Running in the 3.2 Mile Run In Remembrance,
and remembering 32 fallen Hokies.


“Putting your right hand in, and your right hand out, your right hand in,
and shaking it all about” while dancing to the Hokey Pokey
at the beginning of the fourth quarter at home football games.

Finding time to hike to the Cascades, Dragon’s Tooth, or Angel’s Rest
when you’re in Blacksburg.


Getting your picture taken in front of the Virginia Tech flag at TOTS.

Knowing that the only correct answer to, “LET’S GO!!!” is “HOKIES!!!”

Getting tossed in the air after a touchdown.


Volunteering in your local community,
and being a part of VT Engage.

But most importantly, being a Hokie is something that can’t be seen,
it’s the spirit within us…

It’s showing Hokie Respect.

It’s having an instant connection to all other Virginia Tech alumni
and being a part of Hokie Nation.

It’s living the Virginia Tech motto: Ut Prosim – “That I may serve”


It’s a sense of community.

We Are Virginia Tech!

# # #


Besides cheering on her Hokies, Debbie can be found on the running trail, at the gym, hanging out with her husband and sons, or putzing in her garden. Read about her running adventures at DebRuns.com; and if that’s not enough, follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.


  1. Ann Koplow says:

    Wonderful! I loved this.

    Is that too hoki?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Nothing’s too hoki around here, Ann!

      1. Ann Koplow says:

        That’s a relief.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I should probably put it in the disclaimer. Oh wait, I don’t have a disclaimer.

      3. Ann Koplow says:

        That’s a relief, too.

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        That I don’t have a disclaimer? No fine print on the CD.

    2. Thanks, Ann! One can never be too hoki!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        A Cavalier might disagree.

  2. As a fellow Hokie and huge fan of Debbie, this might just be my favorite guest post EVER!! Way to share the history, tradition, and sheer awesomeness of Hokie Nation! I can relate to EVERYTHING in this post, from making out at the Duck Pond with my then boyfriend (now husband) to going nuts over Enter Sandman on Saturday afternoons and Thursday nights. We even danced the Hokey Pokey at our wedding reception, after getting married on a beautiful August day in War Memorial Chapel. Everyone takes pride in their alma mater, but there’s something extra special about being a part of Hokie Nation! We are Virginia Tech. Go Hokies!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I even used Chicago Maroon as the background color today in honor of my favorite Hokies today – you included, Nicole.

      1. Didn’t see the lovely background color when I read this on my phone this morning. LOVE it!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I think I got it right – I tried to match it as best I could. Of course, I called it “Boston Maroon” to Deb!

    2. Thanks, Nicole! Coming from one of my favorite bloggers, that means a lot! Go Hokies!!!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        I knew this place would get overrun with Hokies today.

  3. Loved learning more as to what it means to be Hokie here today and I too guest posted here a few months and definitely felt I had bigs shoes to fill, but Eli is truly such a great guy and definitely so gracious when he opens this space up to us. Thanks for sharing with us today Deb!! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’re going to have to say 4,573 bad things to me to balance out the universe, Janine. Glad you liked Deb’s take – and I’m proud to have you as a CD guest posters alumna.

    2. Thanks, Janine! I think the non-Hokie readers might have learned more today on Coach Daddy than they EVER thought they’d know about Virginia Tech.

      Yes, Eli is so gracious to open his little section of the blogoshpere to us! I was honored to be a guest writer today.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Virginia Tech is one of those schools that’s really hard to pull against.

  4. Kim says:

    Oh – this was fun! I didn’t even know the mascot of Virginia Tech before so I loved learning about a Hokie and what it means to truly be a Hokie!!!

    1. Thanks, Kim! It was very fun for this Hokie to write!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        94% of all Hokies are runners, too, apparently.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      And no one has even mentioned Jim Druckenmiller yet!

      1. Druckenmiller was no Steve Young! Did he even last a year with the 49ers?

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        He lasted almost two seasons … and ninersnation.com chose him as the 49ers’ biggest draft bust of all time. San Francisco passed on Jake Plummer for Big Jim.

  5. I love it, Debbie! It makes me wish that I had gone to a university with as much tradition as you did… Thanks for making me smile 🙂
    Your photos were perfect for the post, too!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The inflatable Hokie was my fave.

      1. Thanks, Stephanie! Eli, you can borrow our inflatable Hokie anytime you want. Of course you have to come get him, then recite the Hokie cheer and do the Hokey Pokey to prove you’re worthy of letting him come visit you! 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        We Niners don’t have cheers … we just verbally abuse the kids who come from Davidson to watch a game, and throw ice and batteries on the court when Cincinnati used to come.

  6. Rosey says:

    Now I know better what it means to be a Hoki! That touchdown person throw, is awesome by the way. 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Kind of makes you want to wear the colors, doesn’t it? Or at least have a turkey sandwich.

    2. Thanks, Rosey! That’s me getting tossed two seasons ago. It was our second touchdown of the game which meant I was tossed 14 times because touchdown tosses are cumulative!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        do they toss you all the way down to the lower bowl?

  7. Amber says:

    Sounds fun.

    I’m not really into sports but I know lots of people around me are.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s as much about the atmosphere as it is the actual game when you have an environment like that … especially a chilly thursday night football game in Blacksburg, am I right, Deb?

      1. Thursday night games are the absolute best! Lane Stadium is rocking, they shoot off fireworks behind the north end zone, and my husband and I always make it a four-day weekend!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        That’s where the Hokies made a name for themselves, at Lane Stadium on a chilly Thursday night.

  8. Beth says:

    Great post Debbie!! Of course we all love our hokies but you are the best fan I know!! I loved everything in your post, but especially the 5 am meet up on the Huckleberry trail for a long run…so that we can also be sure not to miss a moment of tailgating!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ll get the grill started.

    2. Thanks, Beth! You know it; you met Bill and me in the dark for a 15-mile run on the Huckleberry Trail before our tailgate one time!

      1. ksbeth says:

        yes, i remember that so well. and then it was all a blur…

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        it was good tailgate food, though.

      3. Eli Pacheco says:

        Isn’t that dangerous?

  9. ksbeth says:

    wonderful post, i had no idea and i learned a lot about being a hokie. i may consider that as a full-time job option when i retire from this teacher gig. )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I think you have to be born into it. And shouldn’t it be VPISU, for Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University?

      1. Or vippy-sue, as we called it!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        That should be on the helmet. With a Gobbler.

  10. tamaralikecamera says:

    Just driving around, how many of those 8 foot inflatable Hokie (Hoki?) birds do you see on people’s lawns? I’d love to see that!
    I went to Rutgers – Scarlet Knights. I named my daughter, Scarlet, but not because of that.
    My husband went to University of Chicago but everything about his family is UConn. Convenient lately. We have a husky, and it is because of that.

    1. Tamara, you mean I shouldn’t keep my inflatable Hokie Bird on my front lawn all year round? I’m sure my neighbors love it! 😉 Actually, I’ve only seen one out on a lawn near the stadium and it’s there every home game. I put mine on my front porch once for a big VT football party we had before the Cincinnati game at FedEx Field. It didn’t bring us any luck…

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Does anyone ever bring a live turkey?

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m glad his family isn’t all about Ohio University. A bobcat makes a horrible pet.

  11. Loved this! My husband and I went to University of Colorado, so we’re buffalos. And he got his masters at UConn, so it was a pretty happy couple of nights around here. I love your bar!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I’m sure your husband is very happy with his Huskies!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Men *and* women.

      2. Debbie @ Deb Runs says:

        I know! It doesn’t get much better than that!

      3. Eli Pacheco says:

        Would you rather have a women’s basketball title, or an ACC title by beating Florida State in football?

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      While I’m an honorary Hokie, I will sit at the bar and order a rum and Coke Zero. I could get used to this. Don’t tell my school.

      1. Like I said, drinks taste better at our Hokie Stone bar!

        I’d take the ACC football title any day of the week over a men’s or women’s basketball title (shhhh, don’t tell my husband I said that). I’m not a big basketball fan, so I only know how badly the Hokies are doing by grumblings from Bill!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Y’all probably haven’t done much since Dell Curry, anyway.

  12. Rorybore says:

    This is definitely an area that Americans get to enjoy more than us — I am jealous of those tail gate parties! They look sooo fun. You cannot really do that at a hockey game in the middle of winter when it’s minus 40 C – without the windchill. I mean, you may even need your coat and toque to stay on Inside while watching the game, so any hokey pokey is really just about staying warm! LOL
    Love the spirit of this.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Don’t you grill stuff out before an Argos game? I figured maybe they cooked out Canadian bacon before Blue Bombers games or some such.

      I find it interesting that you must go inside where the ice is to warm up.

      So long as you’re doing the hokey pokey and not hanky panky to keep warm.

      This Hokie stuff is pretty cool, isn’t it?

  13. Meagan says:

    Great post! Of course… I may be a bit biased 🙂 I am a proud Hokie Alumni, and I think we could probably talk endlessly about “what it means to be a Hokie.” One to add: being a Hokie means you have a set of random keys deemed your ‘Gameday Keys’ to be used for Key Plays!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      At UNCC, we once waved car keys at an opposing player on the foul line who’d been accused of stealing a car.

    2. Meagan, just last night I mentioned to Bill that I forgot to include 3rd down”key play” and the lunch pail…

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        I know about the lunch pail! I think.

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