Facta, non Verba: How the Hokies Are Taking Action for Social Justice and Change
In 2018, the Hokies team had a mantra on their gear for camp: Facta, non Verba.
It's the Latin phrase for "Actions, not Words." For a football team it's a rallying cry to focus more on the play on the field rather than the trash talk and hype. But for our society, it means so much more.
Over the past few months, the Virginia Tech football program has been internally driven, yet outwardly vocal, about their desire to act as a positive influence for community involvement and change. It's been a focus across the board from the athletic department all the way down to individual players and coaches.
Virginia Tech Football Statement pic.twitter.com/YpXxEcvkPp— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) May 31, 2020
But there comes a tipping point when official statements, t-shirts, and tweets are simply not enough. And no one saw that more then the young men on the football field.
"It was just something that we knew was important in the country, especially this year," said junior WR Tre Turner. "We came together as a leadership council and asked Coach what we could do about voting. Then he went and made the initiative to have registration after one of our scrimmages."
The Virginia Tech team has a "leadership council" consisting of team leaders and veterans. Their roles range from keeping players accountable, to voicing concerns and requests to the athletic department. If you remember the push for turkey bacon last offseason, that was a move by the leadership council who wanted to make sure that fellow Hokies on the team practicing Islam were offered a non-pork protein with breakfasts. There's always an open door between Coach Fuente and and players.
So when the leadership council came to Coach Fuente to ask what they could do about voting, he and the administrators of the program were eager to help.
"It was something Coach Fuente wanted to do as a service to our players to make it as easy as possible to either register locally or to register in their hometown," said Virginia Tech Associate AD Pete Moris.
"The guys were informed of all the materials they needed and then a couple days after practice we had the paperwork available for them to sign. Coach told the team, this was a way for us to help them make their voices heard no matter how they vote."
"It was just something that we knew was important in the country, especially this year."
For something that brings communities together in the most special of ways, football teams have a tendency to harbor a sense of ambiguity. We can't see their faces when they play. We don't see them on commercials or press conferences. In fact, at a large university like Virginia Tech you rarely see them on campus.
What the Virginia Tech program did was a powerful action, not just a well thought out statement. Getting 80-90 young men registered to vote is a task in and of itself. But to have those young men be faces that so many look up to, the impact is endless. This makes the Hokies football team so much more than the medium that brings Hokies together from all walks of life, it makes them community leaders in a time when so many young Hokies need a team to look up to.
(title image via Virginia Tech Athletics)