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August 22, 2013

Hokies Help Freshmen Move In At VT

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Virginia Tech freshman offensive lineman Kyle Chung has sweated plenty while doing work. But the majority of the time it's been on a football field.

Today, Chung and his teammates found themselves working up a sweat in a different way. The Hokies spent an hour stationed in groups along Washington Street on campus, assisting incoming freshmen as the moved into their dorm rooms for the first time.

Chung helped unload a microwave, a refrigerator and a few other items before taking a moment to catch his breath as sweat beaded through his white shirt which read BLLUSSHD on the front. Each player wore the shirt, with the acronym standing for brotherhood, leadership, loyalty, UT Prism, service, sacrifice, honor and duty.

"Coming in, I didn't know I was gonna be doing this, but it's kinda cool helping everybody move in," Chung said. "I got to meet new people and I don't know, it's kinda cool. As football players, people think we're on a different level. For us to help out, it shows them that we're just regular people, just normal college kids hanging out and stuff."

As Chung helped unload one car, the car in front of it was full of supplies as well. There was a microwave, a refrigerator, boxes and plenty of clothes. And as redshirt freshman offensive lineman Augie Conte helped grab a handful of boxes from the car, Diane Vacca of Midlothian, Virginia appreciated the assistance.

Vacca made the trip to Virginia Tech to help move in her son, Dominic Vacca, to Pritchard Hall. She'd made a few move-ins at Virginia Tech before, for her other sons, Joe, who graduated last year and Will, who's a senior this season.

"We'd heard we'd have some help when we got in," Diane said. "It's great because last time we did this, we didn't have much help. It was raining and it was crazy. But it's really great to have help."

But Diane didn't tell Dominic, who said he's long been a Hokies football fan. Last week, he bought his season tickets to sit in the student section at Lane Stadium.

"It helps knowing that they're out here helping the normal people," Dominic said. "It's really good to have them out here and be amongst all the new freshmen because every freshman here knows about Tech football, so that's pretty cool."

Conte, who helped out last season, said he's glad to pitch in and help. Plus, he enjoys the time bonding with his teammates.

"It's just a way to interact with students," Conte said. "We don't get a whole lot of time to be normal students during football season. It's just a time to get out here, interact with the regular students, help the freshmen and sophomores move in. It's just a way to give back to the community and let them know we're here for them, that we do interact, we do have a life to interact with people."

Redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds interacted, but for the moment, he only had a bed rest pillow with arms. Edmunds said he lifted a few heavier things during his time helping. He wasn't just limited to a pillow after the loss of running backs Tony Gregory and J.C. Coleman to injuries.

"Nah, they didn't limit us to anything," Edmunds said. "We're just out here trying to lend a helping hand to any of the people that's moving in. We're just trying to give back, I guess and just interact and meet new people."

Of course, Edmunds and the Hokies were only a small fraction of the helpers. Hundreds of 'Hokie Helpers,' volunteers who all wore matching blue t-shirts, also helped students move. They began helping yesterday, on the first day of move-ins and continued on today.

That included sophomore Marissa Tonachio, who experienced first-hand, what a little help could mean. As a freshman last year, she participated in Hokie camp and moved in to her dorm room days ahead of those who didn't participate in the camp, but the Hokie Helpers don't assist on those days.

"I definitely wish that someone would have helped my family because my dad, moving everything," she said. "I just wanna make things simpler for the kids and their parents. It's pretty stressful moving everything here, figuring out if it's gonna fit in your room and then just seeing how it goes."

To her right, incoming freshman Peter Gula and his parents unloaded their car full of his belongings. From Penn Hills High School near Pittsburgh, Gula also hopes to tryout as a kicker for Virginia Tech. For him, also a football fan, it made a big difference having the players lending a hand.

"I didn't think they'd be here at all," Gula said. "It was good, exciting, especially because you'll be rooting for them in the fall. You get to see them first-hand, see how big they are. It gets you excited for school."

A few minutes later, nearly all the players said their goodbyes and headed to the War Memorial Chapel on campus for lunch and a team meeting. Their time to help had come to an end. But not before first-year assistant coach Aaron Moorehead grabbed a couple of boxes from another car and carried them to a student's dorm room.

Moorehead, in his first year with the Hokies, played at Illinois, played for the Indianapolis Colts and coached at New Mexico and Stanford. But through that time, he said he never took part in an event like this.

"It's totally like Coach (Frank) Beamer, just to be in the community and helping out and making sure that everybody knows that we're here for the students as they're here for us," Moorehead said. "Any time you're in training camp and you can do something that's not necessarily training camp, guys are gonna enjoy it. And they're still getting a little work going here."


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