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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Virginia Tech fans call Lawrence home

Birds of different feather to root for Hokies

Ashley and Steve Strand are graduates of Virginia Tech who live in Lawrence. Steve is a native Kansan who roots for Kansas University during basketball season but will support his alma mater during the Orange Bowl.

Ashley and Steve Strand are graduates of Virginia Tech who live in Lawrence. Steve is a native Kansan who roots for Kansas University during basketball season but will support his alma mater during the Orange Bowl.

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Feature

Miami, here we come

Journal-World KU reporter Jonathan Kealing is covering the fans in and on their way to Miami for the Jayhawks' first ever BCS bowl game. Check out some pitstops and potholes on the way to Miami and keep up with Journal-World Orange Bowl coverage from Miami on our interactive road trip map.

Not all Lawrencians will be donning crimson and blue for Thursday's Orange Bowl.

There are some Virginia Tech Hokies in town.

Steve and Ashley Strand are two local Hokies who bleed maroon and orange, even though Steve is a native Kansan.

"I figured we were going to play either KU or Mizzou," Steve Strand said. "I was a little hesitant at first because I didn't want to root against KU because I love KU, but I've got to go with the alma mater."

Justin Smit, a 2003 VT graduate, moved to Lawrence for a job and even got caught up in the fervor of KU football.

"It was neat to see where the enthusiasm grew through the year," Smit said. "You expect to see that during basketball season, but it was real neat to see the town, especially in October and November, come to life because of the KU football team."

And some live in a house divided.

Tristan Moody and Krista Miller both graduated from KU, but Miller called Virginia Tech home for two years. She tries to keep her loyalty to each school in check.

"If I wear my KU Crocs, I'll wear a Hokie Bird shirt. I always try to balance between them so no one thinks I'm more partial to one than the other," she said.

Moody and Miller both sport each team's colors, and they see a Jayhawk Hokie showdown as a win-win.

"We're going to be cheering for the birds either way," said Moody.

The local Hokies think that KU players are lucky they don't have to play in Lane Stadium, VT's home turf.

"Our stadium is known to be one of the loudest and scariest : because it's so tall and so loud," Ashley Strand said. "Everybody in the stadium is just so excited to root our guys on."

Miller agrees.

"I've never been to any other college football game, not even here, that has that kind of atmosphere," she said. "I don't know if there's a word to describe it."

Smit even followed the Hokies to other bowls they've played in.

"I went to the national title game in 1999, been to two Gator Bowls and last year's Peach Bowl," he said.

The Jayhawks might have a lot to prove in this game, but Smit thinks there's also a lot for the Hokies to live up to.

"This has been our most successful senior class in history, and this is going to be our first team that finishes with a 12-win season, so there's a lot on the line," he said.

And even though Steve Strand grew up in Kansas and had two siblings go to KU, he can't go against his alma mater. Plus, the Strands have an entire room dedicated to Virginia Tech memorabilia.

"I'm a lifelong KU basketball fan, but when it comes to football, I've got to go with the Hokies," he said.

And living in enemy territory, even though it's just until the Orange Bowl, isn't as bad as it sounds.

"The KU fans have been real nice," Smit said. "I haven't gotten too much grief in town here at the office."

"I think it's going to be a good game, and everybody is going to be just cheering on their teams," said Ashley Strand. "Go Hokies!"

Comments

nrebne 11 years, 10 months ago

"I'm a lifelong KU basketball fan, but when it comes to football, I've got to go with the Hokies," he said.

what a knucklehead

LAJayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

That same quote struck me as well. I guess VTech basketball is just not successful enough for him to "not go against his alma mater." Interesting.

I was at the Rose Bowl yesterday sitting in the Illinois section... with my KU jacket on.

Rock Chalk.

eehokie 11 years, 10 months ago

VT's first big bowl game in recent years was against Texas in the sugar bowl (1995???): leading up to the game there were many comments made by Texas fans and the press about what did Texas gain by beating a school like Tech: it was in their papers: they should have gotten a real opponent: each occurrence made tech fans both mad and more resolved: this talk occurred until midway through the third quarter when beamer-ball put Tech two touchdowns up in what seemed like 2 minutes in the stadium it was easy to know where the Tech fans were and where the then silent Texas fans sat. Tech embarrassed Texas that evening: far more than the score reflected: You could even see it on bourbon street later that evening. I will never make the mistake of underestimating a team: if the Hokies do that then they will be in trouble: But realistically Kansas did have an easy schedule: some things to consider: at the end of the season of all of the teams hoping for the national championship berth: Tech had beaten far more teams with more wins than everyone else including Ohio State, LSU, and even the "always the best so rank them high" Trojans: The AP and Coaches Poll have VT at 5 but because of the strength of schedule the BCS has a ranking of #3 - So when you consider how many defensive stats that we are # 2 or #4 : and you consider how tough our schedule really was: that is impressive: Kansas will meet a defense like they have never faced before one where the defensive linemen are actually as fast or faster than their backs and one that is aggressive that seizes every opportunity and rarely makes mistakes: and frankly a defense which can outscore some offenses in the NCAA: say "power-house" offenses like Central Michigan, Southeast Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International Some cupcakes that Kansas took a bite of early in the year: Best of luck to Kansas - they are a great story I suspect they will lose but they are still a great team and don't deserve any negative press hopefully (and I suspect), it will be a good game: good luck Kansas - GO HOKIES!!!

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