Playing With Heart
by Bill Glose, 8/2/00

I recently saw The Replacements, a movie about scab players replacing striking pro football players starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. If you get a chance, go see it. Even with Keanu's limited acting ability, it's a decent football movie. It won't replace Rudy or Brian's Song, but it will make for a decent two hours. There's plenty of chuckles and since it's not August 27 yet, it can provide a release for your pent up football frustration. (Note: The Replacements is a pseudo-comedy and if you dislike movies that don't strive for accuracy, then stay home and watch one of last year's VT games instead.)

The thing that I took away from the film and made me think of the Hokies was the underlying theme. The millionaire pros were striking for more money and the scab players were taking the field and offering up their bodies for the simple enjoyment of the game. Gene Hackman, playing the coach, says in one of his locker room speeches that they are playing with the one thing the pros forgot about a long time ago...they are playing with heart. And, by doing so, they are able to accomplish amazing cinematic feats, defying the odds and sending everyone home with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

That's how it is for me with the Hokies. I look at them and try to rate them realistically. Last year, I thought Tech would be good, but I will be the first to admit that I didn't think they'd have a perfect regular season. I figured Miami would take the crown. But, the Hokies had something that pushed them above everyone's expectations - heart. Whenever they take the field, they play with a fierce, killer attitude, like they have something to prove.

The mentality is ingrained in the team. Midway through the 90's, the team picked a battered lunch box as an icon for their ideals. It represents their blue-collar work ethic. An ethic exemplified by hard work from walk-ons such as John Engleberger and Steve DeMasi. Players such as Nick Sorensen and Dave Meyer that place the team ahead of their own personal goals. Though many of these players aren't highly recruited out of high school, together they make up a cohesive team that plays above expectations, and they are the reason why Tech wins in games where they shouldn't.

This year, I again picked Miami to finish number one in the Big East. My opinion doesn't carry much weight, but my pick corresponds with most of the media outlets. It's a familiar position for the Hokies, battling for the conference title as the underdog. It's also a position in which the Hokies seem to prosper. All I can say is that I won't feel bad if they prove me wrong... again!


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