Virginia Tech:
Once Football Foe, Now Friend

by Chris Stansbury

From the moment the final second ticked off to end the 2006 ECU football season, I have been tracking the days until we kick off the '07 campaign in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Then April 16th happened, and for now, things changed.  At least one gunman ravaged the Virginia Tech campus, killing 32 innocent people and injuring countless others. 

In many ways it was like September 11th in that it was completely unexpected, and lives were shattering right before our very eyes.  To me it was much worse because Virginia Tech is in a lot of ways just like East Carolina, a place I call home, a place where both my wife and I work and a place where my kids are just a few blocks up the street at school. 

Virginia Tech is the heart and soul of Blacksburg, Virginia, just like ECU is to Greenville.  There are 26,000 students enrolled at VT, ECU is gaining in that category very quickly.  Both campuses are really smaller cities of their own. 

What really shook me up is before Monday I would have never thought something like that could happen at a place like East Carolina.  But I am sure the students, faculty, administration and even the police wouldn't have thought it could happen at Virginia Tech either. 

I don't know anyone at Virginia Tech, don't know anyone in its athletic offices, and don't know anyone who lives in Blacksburg, but I feel compelled to pray for them, to mourn with them, and help them move on. 

I can pray and mourn for them, but like them, I too will have trouble moving on.  After all, Monday morning I went to work, walking side by side from the parking lot with students heading to class and it was just another day.  I didn't even remember whether I told my wife and boys "I love you" when I left, but I sure felt it. 

What would make someone decide to end so many promising lives in the most brutal manner?  It was just senseless. 

So when September rolls around, I will be fired up about the football season kicking off and the hopes of another run to a bowl game.  But that first game in Blacksburg is going to be emotional.

I am a member of the Pirate Nation.  I will always be a Pirate fan.  I am purple and gold through and through.  But today, we should all be a Virginia Tech fan.
Chris Stansbury