This year's Orange and Maroon Tour more than just golf outing

Pat Kenney • May 17, 2007 at 12:39 PM

It's that time of year. Golf outings to the right of me, golf outings to the left.

Every organization around is using golf to raise money. And the media is dragged kicking and screaming to courses around Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, forced to spend the day in the sunshine beating that little white ball into submission.

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

On Monday, the PKT - that's Pat Kenney Tour to the uninitiated - headed to Tri-Cities Golf Course in Blountville. I had been invited to play some golf with the Tri-Cities chapter of the Virginia Tech Hokie Club.

Golf and some barbecue, not a bad way to spend the day.

I won't bore you with the sordid details of our round. Suffice it to say we hit it often and often in the wrong direction.

Once everyone had finished punishing themselves out on the golf course, we all gathered for a meal and some fellowship.

Just a month removed from the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I was curious what the reaction of the local Hokie Club members would be.

What I found was just what I had expected.

While the subject of the shootings was touched on, it wasn't dwelled on. The sense I got was that Virginia Tech fans everywhere, whether they knew any of the victims or not, took what happened on April 16 in Blacksburg very personally.

Even years removed from campus life, we all still have a real connection to our college days. Those memories may fade, but they never completely go away.

I recalled how devastated I was a few years ago when an entire block of buildings on the campus at Virginia Commonwealth burned down. I'd walked those very streets and spent time in those buildings.

The Virginia Tech fans I spent time with Monday gave me a sense of how difficult this whole affair has been. But they also showed a great deal of resolve.

What I think is that Tech fans have drawn themselves even closer to the Hokie athletic teams. The pride that they have in the success of their football program over the past decade has now grown even more intense.

Just talking with them this week gave me a feeling that they can't wait to gather in Lane Stadium for next season's first home game, against East Carolina on Sept. 1.

During a conversation with Hokies defensive backs coach Torrian Gray during dinner, he talked about the feeling the football players have even now. They want to turn all the anger and frustration of one bitter day into something positive for the Hokie fans.

This year's Orange and Maroon Tour was more than just a golf outing. It was a chance to look forward to a day in September when all can come together in Blacksburg to celebrate what it is to be a Hokie.

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