Even though the Hokies used to enter the field after the theme from 2001: Space Odyssey was played, their new walk-out ritual is right up there with putting a man on the moon in terms of sheer awesomeness.
“I’ve been all over the world and seen a lot of things, but nothing tops being in that stadium when Enter Sandman comes on the speakers,” says a former Virginia Tech cadet, now Sergeant in the United States Army. “It’s truly a bucket-list experience. There’s nothing else like it.”
Blacksburg might not bring the biggest musical acts or the biggest entertainers – because for the Hokies, the game is THE big event, and fans travel far and wide to be a part of that.
But something larger than life must have happened at the turn of the millennium. No, not the Mayan calendar and end of the world jibber jabber – but that fateful day when “Enter Sandman” was first used by Virgina Tech on Aug. 27, 2000. It was the season opener, and the Hokies were slated to face Georgia Tech, but as fate would have it, a lightning storm – so powerful that it struck ESPN announcer Lee Corso’s car in the Lane Stadium parking lot – wound up causing the game to be cancelled. It was the only game cancelled for weather in VT football history, and fans surmised lightning struck Corso’s car because he’d predicted the Yellow Jackets to win!
It’s no coincidence that the Metallica band logo has lightning bolts on both sides…this was the start of something BIG.
Now the Hokies had the giant Jumbotron and the big, high-energy entrance to match.
While nearby colleges were moseying out to the field to the mellow classics of John Denver (think Tennessee’s “Ol’ Rocky Top” and West Virginia’s “Take Me Home Country Roads”), or de facto fight songs such as UVA’s “The Good Old Song”, Virginia Tech had injected new electricity into Lane Stadium that would keep everyone buzzing all the way through an 11-1 season.
Now the crowd sings in unison, “Sleep with one eye oooopen…” which is much more fun than the Space Odyssey song, which had no words, or the Old Hokie song, with words like “Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah, Polytechs – Vir-gin-ia!” I remember putting those lyrics into the AOL search engine back in 1999 so I’d know what to chant in the stadium, and scratching my head thinking who comes up with this stuff?
We sure have come a long way from the days when Floyd “Hardtimes” Meade would take the field with his trained turkey back in the 1920s (hence the team nickname, The Fighting Gobblers). And to think, some teams are still using stunts like mascot ducks riding motorcycles (Oregon State) while the Hokies are rocking the stadium so hard we’re over here causing earthquakes!
“Technically, if tectonic plates aren’t involved, it is not classified as an earthquake,” says Martin Chapman, director of the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory (VTSO). Chapman has been measuring the seismic waves for decades and has paid attention to the consistent patterns they follow on game day. Did you know? They actually follow along with the music!
While our “Earthquake Game” wasn’t the first sporting event to register seismic activity, Lane Stadium has seen the most seismic action. Even Cassell Coliseum registered a “quake” back in 2018, when men’s basketball had a huge upset over Duke, with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line.
Let’s face it, Hokies know how to get fired up!
Matter of fact, Virginia Tech’s “Enter Sandman” has become one of the loudest moments in college football history, with a reading of 126.2 decibels, topping the loudest rock concert ever held on American soil. Bear in mind the pain threshold for human hearing is 120-130 decibels, so Hokie Fans may need to start wearing earmuffs to be safe. I can hear the stadium noise all the way from my house, and at 126 decibels, the roar of the Hokies can be heard up to 10 miles away, in the right conditions.
But what about the jumping?
The tradition of the students jumping up and down has a weather-related start as well. One particularly cold night in December of 2001, a band member of the Marching Virginians started jumping up and down to keep himself warm. Of course, with marching band kids, it’s monkey-see-monkey-do, so his colleagues joined in on the jumping. It spread like wildfire, and soon enough, even the students and the rest of the spectators were bouncing up and down in unison. It’s a phenomenon affectionately known as “The Blacksburg Bounce”.
Metallica is grateful to be such a big part of VT history and created a video in 2011 to be featured on the Jumbotron. “Hey, Hokie Nation, time to kick some butt! This is Metallica. Start jumping!” yells lead singer and guitarist, James Hetfield, as the song kicks up a notch.
Tim East was the assistant athletic director of marketing and promotions back when the video was created, and when asked if he could have ever envisioned the song’s popularity, replied: “Not in my wildest imagination.”
Text by Emily K. Alberts
Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics by Jon Fleming
Emily K. Alberts [VT class of 2003] enthusiastically started jumping in August! She thinks it’s kind of cool how Enter Sandman sounds similar to Enter Stadium. Go Hokies!