Hokie Football Through the Lens of Overalls
Do you have that one piece of clothing in your closet that when you run across it in the far back of your hanging clothes, you stop and stare for a second? That one shirt, that one dress, that one sweater that brings back a tidal wave of memories across your brain?
I feel lucky enough to say that piece of clothing for me isn’t in my closet; it hangs in a frame in the living room of my apartment. Even though I glance at this frame everyday, they still bring back all the memories that are now woven into the seams of my Burnt Orange and Chicago Maroon overalls.
It all started back at my high school graduation party. I was accepted early decision into Virginia Tech to start in the fall of 2013 and was excited to celebrate this milestone with my family and friends. Since I had been old enough to carry a football, I dreamed that I would one day be cheering on the Hokies with thousands of my classmates.
Luckily for me, I had a close friend that knew how much Lane Stadium was going to impact me over my next four years (well five years actually - even Finance students need a redshirt year). It was at this party that my friend Clay Whitley and his family gave me a gift I would never forget. I had seen many fans from the Big Ten don overalls at their football games, but I had yet to see any of the Hokie faithful wear anything of the sort. I knew instantly I had to wear them to every game I would attend, and I made pretty good on that promise over the next several years to come.
The first game wearing those beautiful striped overalls was on a sunny Sept. Saturday back in 2013. VT was coming off a tough loss to Alabama in the Georgia Dome, but they were ready (and so was I) to kick off the home slate in Lane for that year. I woke up early, showered quickly, and tightened up the straps over my bare chest. Yes, I made the decision early on to wear the overalls without a shirt. My mom would never forgive me for it, but it only felt right to wear orange and maroon stripes on my bare body.
From that day forth, I was the “overall guy.” People were asking to take pictures with me, asking me where I got them from; heck, I think I remember one tailgate when my freshman roommate, Pat Finn, introduced me as “Carsty, the guy with the overalls.” I still to this day believe this was the only reason I was accepted into the fraternity I joined. I was proud to be known for something, and I am glad they got to see some interesting games my freshman year, like a rainy triple overtime win over Marshall (not the one you always think of, but it’s one I remember, because I had to wash the overalls more than once after getting back to my dorm room).
Over the next several years, the overalls were with me through so many amazing memories. I wore them at the Horseshoe in Columbus, where the Hokies were the only team to beat the National-Championship-winning, Urban-Meyer-helmed Ohio State Buckeyes. The overalls experienced the last home game of Frank Beamer in Lane Stadium. They got to see the largest college football game in history at Bristol Motor Speedway vs the Tennessee Volunteers. They even made their way down to Orlando, where the Hokies came within 7 points of winning their first ACC Championship since 2010. They saw only wins against that team in Charlottesville, and they experienced the thriller at FedEx Field against the West Virginia Mountaineers. But eventually, there is a time to ‘retire’ a sentimental treasure.
I had initially planned to wear the overalls through the end of my 5th year at Virginia Tech, but destiny had something else in mind. I was presented with an opportunity to attend an autograph session with Frank Beamer, and I knew there was only one item that I needed to get signed. When it was my turn to meet Frank, I asked him if he would do me the honor of signing my overalls.
He told me that it was the first time he had signed a pair of overalls, reaffirming that I made the right choice. Not only did these overalls have memories that could never be washed out of the threads, but they now contained the autograph of the most influential person in Virginia Tech football history. My parents had the overalls framed as my Christmas present that year, and they now proudly hang next to the television where I watch the Hokies play when I am unable to attend a game.
Looking back on my game day experiences at Virginia Tech, it probably would have been nice to wear shorts on one of those scorching hot September days. I know my mom and my girlfriend would have been a lot happier had I worn a shirt underneath the overalls to hide my chest hair from the world. But every day, when I look at the orange and maroon stripes on the wall, I can’t help but smile, knowing that those overalls and I shared some of the best memories I have had in my entire life.