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Georgia On Our Minds

By Pete Bertheaud | May 07
Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics

When Georgia Amoore committed to Kentucky on April 4th, Hokie Nation’s worst fears had been realized. “We lost Liz and Cayla, Kenny left us, and now we’re losing Georgia.” It was not just the end of an era, it was a knock-out blow to one of the most successful runs any Virginia Tech program has ever had. Needless to say, the fanbase was feeling a lot of emotions.

For us here at Sons of Saturday, the overwhelming feeling was gratitude; grateful for the ACC Championships, grateful for the Final Four run, and particularly grateful to Liz and Georgia for raising the profile of our women’s basketball program. This was not only due to their elite play on the court, but also their elite personalities off the court. However, not all Hokie fans had the warm and fuzzies about our Australian point guard’s decision to follow Coach Brooks, but we’ll come back to that.

Queens of Cassell, the podcast on our very own platform, started 17 months to the day before Georgia’s announcement. After gaining traction throughout the regular season, the show became a bit of a phenomenon as the charismatic hosts were simultaneously making history for the Hokies. Views and downloads exploded after Tech beat Ohio State to reach the Final Four, and the girls had a newfound celebrity status, especially among the VT faithful. The fans were really getting to know Georgia and Liz, perhaps more so than any athletes to don the maroon and orange before them.

Think about it – Michael Vick didn’t have social media, Tyrod Taylor wasn’t on Instagram, Corey Moore was ahead of his time with a couple of viral videos (at least viral to us Hokies), but he didn’t have 30+ YouTube episodes talking about his life on campus or his most recent game. The Queens had all the above, along with constant promotion from the Sons. They were in your feed and on your screens for two full seasons. Heck, even Momma Amoore appeared in an episode. They had transcended the game, intertwining their lives with so many of our fans. People felt like they knew them, and in some ways they did. This made what happened on April 4th all the more triggering.

Me taking a selfie with the ladies at Slam Jam

Since her decision to play for Big Blue Nation, Georgia has taken a lot of heat. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the comments on any popular post involving her over the past month. It’s not pretty. If you’re asking yourself, “How could people be so cruel to a VT legend like Georgia for simply following her longtime coach?” First of all, you have a good perspective, and second, the answer is partially within the question.

Kenny Brooks’ exit did not do Georgia any favors. Despite all he and the team had accomplished, it is no secret that Coach Brooks has fallen out of favor with the fanbase since his departure. From the timing of the interview with UK to the lack of a goodbye message, Hokie fans have found more than enough fodder to write KB’s villain arc. So when Georgia chose to follow enemy No. 1 (perception, not the opinion of SOS), an already difficult transition was made nearly impossible for our all-time assists leader.

Nevertheless, the reason that transition was going to be so difficult in the first place goes back to what I was explaining before – Georgia was beloved by our fans. From a marketability standpoint, it’s easy to see why. She’s the total package: a competitor to the nth degree, the skills to back it up, and an effervescent personality. With the podcast, YouTube, social media, etc., everyone had a front-row seat for all of it. When you put a camera on her, she never disappointed. Her one-liners left people in stitches, and her wry smile left you wanting more.

Other accomplished, well-liked Tech players have transferred in recent memory – Hendon Hooker, Tayvion Robinson, and Kerry Blackshear come to mind – but I think we can all agree that none of these players came close to Georgia in terms of career success and the way she endeared herself to the fans. That combination was truly unique. Thinking of her wearing another college uniform was unfathomable… until it wasn’t. While some fans have been unwaveringly supportive, a lot of Hokies were hurt by the decision, heartbroken even. I know likening Georgia’s transfer to a breakup or losing someone you love may seem irrational, but as Kelly Gramlich pointed out today on X, “fan is short for fanatic”, and fanatics can be highly irrational at times.

Even I admitted that I was bitter after the announcement; like everyone else, I wanted to see Georgia finish her career as a Hokie. That does not mean I felt betrayed by her, that she was disloyal to VT, or that her decision was wrong. There is a difference between being sad about the situation and harboring ill will – I had none of the latter. Unfortunately, social media allows a small fraction of people who are bitter or hurt about someone’s choices to manifest their feelings in hateful messages directly to that person.

So far, I have been trying to play this Op-Ed down the middle (not that I’m a columnist or anything close to it), but, at this point, I feel it is my responsibility as a VT fan, and an alum, to say that I find the negativity directed at Georgia despicable. I am not telling anyone how to feel, but aiming your hate at one of our best athletes ever, who played four years at Tech and graduated as a Hokie is flat-out wrong. You’re allowed to be upset, bitter, or hurt, but please do not let those raw emotions cloud the fact that this is a person who gave her everything to the university you supposedly care so much about.

Earlier today, Georgia and Liz put out their 40th episode of Queens of Cassell, their first show in over two months (perhaps their last as the QOC, but that’s unclear at the moment). They addressed everything that’s happened since Senior Day – from Liz’s injury to Georgia’s decision-making process and the resulting backlash – with incredible honesty and courage. The light it shines on what high-profile college athletes have to deal with these days is eye-opening. With that being said, it was amazing to see the outpouring of support for Georgia in the wake of the episode's release. I would encourage any and all fans to watch it; you might just get the closure you need as we turn the page to the next chapter in Hokies women's basketball.

My final assessment of this entire situation comes down to two things: the loudest voices are often the most negative, and people are much more likely to lash out at the ones they know and love. I could get more philosophical, but, Georgia, you touched the lives of so many, a couple of idiots were bound to let their feelings get the best of them. The vast majority of us are incredibly grateful and proud of what you accomplished at Virginia Tech. For every troll that feels the need to post something negative, there is an endless number of fans who cannot put what you meant to them into words.

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I grew up in Delaware and have always identified as a Philly fan. However, once I got to VT, I fell in love with the Hokies. I went to just about every game as a student, dozens as an alum, and turned that passion into the podcast in 2015. Years later, we’re still putting out episodes, and 2024, our 10th season, is sure to be the best yet. 

I’m happily married and settled out in the ‘burbs after living in DC and Philly for years. My JMU wife is extremely supportive of my Hokies “hobby” and doesn’t mind spending weekends in Blacksburg cheering on Tech (as long as I root for the Dukes on occasion). I also try to be a valuable member of society, volunteering my time to our local Rotary Club - which the Sons have supported via their online resources. 

Being part of the SOS has lit a fire in me and I’m grateful for that. It keeps pushing me to make our content the best it can be.

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