Service is ingrained in what cadets do each day. In a unique partnership, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and the Virginia Tech football team have established a program to ensure the U.S., Virginia, and Team Spirit flags are properly honored while creating an opportunity to highlight cadets and players for their outstanding performance.
Even though cadets are being recognized personally, they understand that this is also an opportunity to serve their university, state, and nation as they care for the flags before each football game kickoff.
Since fall 2003, the Corps of Cadets has chosen freshman cadets, based on their outstanding performance, to receive the flags from the players at the south end of the field before each home game in Lane Stadium. The football team selects the players who carry the flag for their outstanding performance and continued hard work as well.
This innovative program is one example of the strong partnership between two of the most visible organizations on campus, the Corps of Cadets and the Virginia Tech Athletic Department, and of how both organizations strive to develop outstanding students and honor their achievements.
In 2009, the program was expanded to allow cadets to travel to away games with the football team. Not only do the cadets receive the flags before the game, but they attend team meetings and meals, stand on the sideline during the game, and participate in the locker room. This experience has allowed the cadets and football players to learn from each other and from their unique, although remarkably similar, disciplined and focused lifestyles.
Cadets often comment on how disciplined the team environment is and how it is much more like their life in the corps than they realized. The structured, leadership-oriented, and disciplined environments, as well as the strong focus on accomplishing the mission, are key for both cadets and the football team to achieve success.
Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Dallas of Dry Fork, Va., a junior majoring in aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering, a recipient of the Harold N. Hoback '53 Emerging Leader Scholarship, and a member of Air Force ROTC, traveled to the Georgia Tech game in fall 2011. “Overall, the experience was priceless, one that many would do almost anything to have,” Dallas said.
“I really appreciate being able to have this honor and it will be remembered by me for the rest of my life. The players, coaches, and staff of the football team made me feel welcome at every instance of my trip and I am thankful to them for that.”
Cadet Joshua Vaught of Roanoke, Va., a sophomore majoring in psychology in the College of Science who is a recipient of the Daniel W. Bird, Jr. '60 Emerging Leader Scholarship and the G. Scott Francis Commandant’s Scholarship, went to the Marshall game in fall 2011. Vaught, a member of the corps’ Civilian Leader Track program, said he didn’t know what to expect or how the team would react to him.
“In fact, they were nice, persistently smiling, and were as curious about our program as we were of theirs,” Vaught said. “I felt that, after such a warm welcome, receiving the colors was an even greater honor than anticipated; though performing such a task would’ve been significant regardless, my sense of honor was further magnified by their sincerity.”
The spring 2012 regimental commander, Cadet Col. Amanda McGrath of Chester, Vt., a senior majoring in history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Science, a member of Air Force ROTC, and a recipient of the Duncan A. Macleod '48 Memorial Emerging Leader Scholarship, was one of the first two female cadets to get to travel with the football team.
She and Airman 1st Class Lindsey Beadle, U.S. Air Force, who earned a degree in sociology and a minor in American Indian studies from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and a minor in leadership studies from the Corps of Cadets’ Rice Center for Leader Development in 2010, traveled to Maryland in 2009 when she was a sophomore.
"When both parties are excited about it, you know you've struck a good deal," said Associate Athletics Director for Football Operations John Ballein. "When we started this, we were thrilled that the students in the corps would want to participate. We took that as a compliment to our program. Then we started getting hand written letters from the cadets who participated, expressing their appreciation and telling us what an honor it was, and how thrilled they were to be associated with Virginia Tech football. That's when we knew we were on the right track."
For more information on this topic, contact Maj. Carrie Cox at 540-231-6413.
See a photo gallery of some of the Corps of Cadets' members honored throughout the years.
"One of the things that makes Virginia Tech football unique, is the relationship this program has with the university, the community, the fans, and the student body," football coach Frank Beamer said.
"Involving our Corps of Cadets, not only reinforces the link between our program and the students, it's also an outward expression of the respect we have for the men and women of our armed services. For us, it's simply a show of respect to both Virginia Tech and this country."
Each morning and evening, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets continues a tradition that dates to the beginning of the country and is in keeping with military traditions that actually date back centuries.
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