Vir­ginia ri­valry back in full force af­ter truce fol­low­ing cam­pus shoot­ing

Vir­ginia Tech and Univer­sity of Vir­ginia put the past be­hind

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Larry O’Dell

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Af­ter the April 16 shoot­ings at Vir­ginia Tech, the words “Hoos for Hok­ies” were painted on a Univer­sity of Vir­ginia bridge that has be­come sort of a pub­lic fo­rum for stu­dent ex­pres­sion.

It marked a rare but ap­pro­pri­ate hia­tus in the fierce ri­valry be­tween the U.Va. Cav­a­liers — in­for­mally known as Wa­hoos, or sim­ply Hoos — and the Tech Hok­ies.

There was a new mes­sage on the bridge Satur­day: “Go Hoos, Beat the Hok­ies.”

The ri­valry was back and big­ger than ever as Vir­ginia and Vir­ginia Tech clashed in the most mean­ing­ful foot­ball game in the se­ries’ 112-year his­tory. A berth in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game awaited the win­ner.

The tragedy wasn’t forgotten. Pregame fes­tiv­i­ties in­cluded a mo­ment of si­lence for the 32 peo­ple killed by a Tech stu­dent who then took his own life. It was fol­lowed by a sax­o­phone solo of “Amaz­ing Grace.”

But fans from both schools said be­fore the game that they were ready for the ri­valry to get back to nor­mal. That means Vir­ginia fans chid­ing Tech fans as beer-swill­ing, over­all-wear­ing rubes and Hok­ies bash­ing Wa­hoos as wine-sip­ping, bow-tied snobs — usu­ally, but not al­ways, good-na­turedly.

Some peo­ple call it “cul­ture ver­sus agri­cul­ture.”

“Cav­a­liers like to think they’re bet­ter than ev­ery­body else,” said Gary Gee, 25, of Roanoke, a Hok­ies sea­sonticket holder. “We’re just down-home hill peo­ple.”

Said 13-year-old Vir­ginia fan Har­ri­son Austin of Vin­ton: “We teach peo­ple how to do brain surgery. They teach them to plant corn.”

Some fam­i­lies have mem­bers in both camps. The Craig Dun­bar fam­ily, of Mid­loth­ian, shared their tail­gate spread of egg casse­role, ham bis­cuits and Bloody Marys with rel­a­tive Dan Black of Ash­land, a Tech grad­u­ate.

“All dirt roads lead to Tech,” chuck­led Dun­bar.

Black re­sponded: “Tech still has the vet school and the cows, but you don’t have to go too far out­side Charlottesville to see a few cows ei­ther.”

Still, the barbs have been de­liv­ered with less venom since the Tech shoot­ing, said Paige Dun­bar, an 18-year-old fresh­man at U.Va.

“It’s still a huge ri­valry,” she said. “We still want to beat Tech more than any­thing, and we were still cheer­ing when Bos­ton Col­lege beat them.”

But she and oth­ers mar­veled at the out­pour­ing of sup­port Tech has got­ten from U.Va. There were mone­tary con­tri­bu­tions and can­dle­light vig­ils. And she noted that the “Hoos for Hok­ies” mes­sage stayed on Beta Bridge for well over a month, while some­times mes­sages get painted over three times in just one night.

“That was a very ad­mirable thing,” said Kevin Bai­ley of Rich­mond, a 44-year-old Tech grad mak­ing his way through the sea of tail­gate par­ties for Satur­day’s game.

“When some­thing like that hap­pens, we’re all to­gether,” said his friend and fel­low Hokie, Gene Kastel­berg, 44, of Rich­mond. “But for the next three or four hours, we’ll go at each other.”

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