In order to successfully cheer in Lane Stadium you must first realize that as fans you are single-handedly responsible for the outcome of home games. The coaches and players have some impact on the game, but it is your cheering that determines whether we win or lose. Occasionally, when the team is not playing well, the crowd may become complacent. DO NOT FALL WITH THEM. Instead, Turn Up the Wick – accept full responsibility for getting neighboring fans going again. With bourbon as your faithful sidekick you can and will make this happen. We encourage applying the following rules at away games, too. We do not, however, accept responsibility for actions taken by opposing fans on their own turf.
The most important rule of cheering is that seats exist for long timeouts and halftime ONLY!! There are exceptions to this policy for the elderly, persons with peg legs, and persons who need to sit for short periods in order to mix another drink. Be reasonable with your section-mates; see if they have a valid excuse for sitting. When in doubt, put it to a vote before the entire section. America is, after all, a democracy. In the event that your section does approve the sitting down of a few fans, try to respect them, but under no circumstances acknowledge or accept “down in front” requests (DIFs). If they need to sit, fine, but that doesn’t mean all the other fans have to. They could have stayed home and sat on their couch if sitting was so damn important. It is, however, good fan etiquette to at least attempt to create space between you and your neighbor for the sitting fan to painfully crane his or her neck in order to see at least some action. If you happen to be nuzzling up to an attractive member of the opposite sex you just met at the game, this obviously trumps any responsibility you have to fellow fans. Now, if you’re dealing with an opposing fan, pretend the guy is a UVA fan that doesn’t wear a goofy coat and tie to football games. In other words, pretend he doesn’t exist. Ignore his cries by instead turning your head and wondering out loud, “is that the Coke boy? I need another mixer.” In the event that the opposing fan is actually a UVA fan, throw your drink on him immediately. If you happen to be on your last bourbon, get a plain Coke from the Cokeboy and throw that on him. Then resume cheering normally. Sitting is for tea parties; standing is for football. Even a major injury is not an excuse to sit during the game. You didn’t see Xavier Adibi sitting last year did you?
Rule #2, cheer appropriately on offense. Clapping for positive yardage is fine. Yelling like Humes just broke one for 83 yards, when in fact he picked up two, is not. Your spirit is appreciated but this can startle and confuse other fans who now think we have scored a touchdown. If Humes does break an 83-yarder, even the senior citizens and people mixing drinks should be screaming like an 11-year-old girl at a Justin Timberlake concert. (We do not, however, actually encourage you to become an 11-year-old Justin Timberlake fan).
Positive offensive cheering is pretty obvious. As for the negative: leave it at home. Players make mistakes. Jon Dunn repeatedly. Still, this is no reason to suddenly turn against your own. Negative cheering can wait until the postgame tailgate. We aren’t saying don’t complain, we’re just saying wait until the game ends. Hey, don’t blame us-you’re the one who signed on for the ride. If this is a policy you have trouble with, become a UVA fan. Here in Hokietown, we care. We don’t boo our own. There is, however, an exception to this policy: the Nick Sorenson Rule. Each season you may select one player on whom you will blame most everything that goes wrong. Even if they aren’t on the field. Occasionally, there will be so many of these players that the Fan Relations Committee will allow you to select two or more players; most seasons, though, one will suffice. Chose well and don’t pick too early, because that’s your guy for the entire season. For example, two years ago O’Connell picked Grant Noel. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but after Noel was injured against LSU, O’Connell didn’t get to have much fun except on the take a knee play. Last year, I chose Bobby Peaslee, which presented numerous opportunities to develop elaborate conspiracy theories to explain how Peaslee was responsible for missed tackles. Those of you who chose Jon Dunn: NICE WORK.
Offense is fun, but this is Va. Tech and Defense is King. Just as all the best players are on defense, all the best cheering takes place on defense, too. Loud is the key here and start early. Don’t wait for opposing teams to break the huddle. As soon as they are in there…start the yelling. Some people like to make up stupid things to say, others like deep guttural sounds. PK likes to yell out his own snap count. Cheering is an art not a science, and yours should reflect your personality. Now, you are using your voice, but you’ve got hands and feet, too. If you are in the North End Zone bleachers, stomping is mandatory. It doesn’t work on the concrete and wooden bleachers, so don’t bother. But use those hands. I like to clap. Dad uses a cowbell. O’Connell prefers the megaphone. And let’s not forget the keys – a long forgotten Blacksburg favorite. Personally, I don’t use keys, but looking around at 60,000 fans waving their keys for a Key Play is precious (it’s also ridiculous, but this is the Home of the Fighting Gobblers, so don’t take yourself too seriously). The scoreboard operator should encourage the keys more often. We recommend cheering at about 70% on 1st and 2nd downs. This conserves some energy for key 3rd down cheering, which requires 100% volume. Once we hold on 3rd down, the real fun starts…on 4th down, other teams’ fans see punts as an opportunity to beat the bathroom rush…in Blacksburg these are scoring opportunities…at least one person in each section should be injured while cheering for a blocked punt…be sure to inform any visiting fans around you that you expect to score a touchdown on this play. It’s also good fun to “call” a block every time. When it actually happens, everyone around you will pat you on the back for calling it…they understand that you actually made that happen. Good job!
Now for the REALLY fun part: treatment of the opposing team. There is a fine line between supporting your team and going over the top. Tech fans are supportive, loyal, and knowledgeable. Lane Stadium is a place teams fear and dread because of the loud, diehard fans. But we are first class fans. We are not Miami fans, Texas fans, Florida State fans, or West Virginia fans. There is no room in the stadium for fans who kick a bad team when they’re already down. The days of 2-8-1 are not THAT far behind us. If they’re losing, they know they’re losing. A simple, “Nah-nah-nah-nah, hey, hey, goodbye,” will do. Even the band gets into that one. Chants of “Overrated” only make us look like a bunch of small-timers getting a lucky win. It also means that you just beat a team that wasn’t very good….so what are you so excited about? Losing with class and winning with class should be a given at this point. That being said, booing opposing players is always acceptable. Yelling things at them is also great; just recognize this is primarily for the entertainment of those around you, so make it funny. If you are fortunate enough to be in earshot of the opposing bench, or any part of the field where players can hear you, you have a great responsibility. Focus on getting their attention and rattle them, but have some couth. For instance, saying something about a player himself is fine, while his family should be off limits. Girlfriends are a gray area, but when in doubt, shout it out (thank you Johnnie Cochran). One simple and effective way to find cheering material are movies, TV, and songs. For instance: “Hey, 21! I’m bigger than you, I’m higher on the food-chain . . . GET IN MY BELLY!!!” A+. This, of course, only works if you have a good Scottish accent, so perfect your voices and dialects – they are an invaluable resource. Heckling is basically a do-your-own-thing kind of thing. Just find your groove, the words will come to you.
A few more miscellaneous notes. One, frequently make up inside jokes with your friends/fellow season ticket holders and shout them out at random. For example, when the band plays “H-O-K-I-E-S-HOKIES!”, instead, say, “F-L-E-E-C-E-BLANKIE!!” You have no idea do you? Trust us, it’s hilarious. The less sense they make, the better. This serves no real purpose other than to amuse the people around you and keep them questioning your sanity, a must for every great cheerer. Two, find every opportunity to incorporate your own name into things. This is just another way to become closer to the game. For example, each year Jaquays petitions the athletic department to have the West Side yell “FEAR” and the East Side yell “JAQUAYS.” No luck yet, but he’s still trying. Three, DO NOT spill your bourbon and Coke. Not only will it anger the gentleman in front of you who happens to take the brunt of the downpour, but it’s also a waste. They keep making it so difficult to get the stuff in it’s become liquid gold inside the gates. Spilling will lead to running out early. Running out early will lead to the beginning of a hangover. And hangovers in no way lead to good cheering. Four, enjoy the band. It’s true, they are huge nerds, but huge nerds have done a lot for America. You’re probably using Internet Explorer right now. The band is there for the good of the team and the fans. Learn all the songs and dances if you don’t already know them. Every time the band starts, dork it up along with them. Last, but not least-third downs. When the other team has the ball, you should be yelling every play. On third, your goal should be to lose your voice. On the other side of the coin, when Tech has a third, it should be as quiet as if Tiger Woods is putting for bird in the south end zone. Fourth downs get exponentially more extreme in both directions.
You are now ready to go out and join the legions of morons that make Lane Stadium rock several Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays each year. Go Hokies!!!