Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

April 15, 2014

Appearance by Beamer highlights Orange and Maroon Caravan

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Frank Beamer has accumulated 266 wins, with 224 of those coming during his 27 years at Virginia Tech.

That number, which is currently the most of any active NCAA Division I football coach, promises to continue to grow into the future, with the Hokies’ football program showing no signs of slowing down under the tutelage of 67-year-old Beamer.

Call that good news for 1987 Virginia Tech graduate Lisa Clark, who remembers how little interest there was in the Virginia Tech program when she went there.

She certainly never expected what has happened since, with the Hokies becoming one of the most successful programs in the nation, having appeared in bowl games for the last 21 straight seasons.

“No,” Clark said. “When I was in school it was a rarity that the stadium would even be full.”

That has all changed, and Beamer is a definite reason why. His 266 wins are the most among active Division I coaches and 15th all-time in NCAA history. Beamer, who played at Virginia Tech from 166-68, won the first 42 games of his career at Murray State before coming to Blacksburg in 1987.

An opportunity to meet Beamer and listen to his thoughts on the current state of Virginia Tech football arrives on April 30 at Fincastle on the Mountain when the Bluefield/Tazewell Hokie Clubs host the Orange and Maroon Caravan.

Beamer usually visits the local caravan every other year so Clark expects interest to be high in this event. Clark said an audience of 100 to 150 Virginia Tech supporters is expected.

“He is usually our biggest draw,” said Clark, the president of the local Hokie Club. “We are looking forward to spending the evening with Coach Beamer.”

The event begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner prepared by the popular Chef Rick at 6:30. The cost is $25 for adults and $15 for children, ages 12-and-under.

The deadline for reservations is Sunday, April 20.

“The Fincastle venue plus the draw from Chef Rick’s cooking makes it the ideal facility to have this event,” Clark said.

Dinner is followed by a presentation from Beamer, who will be less than a week removed from Virginia Tech’s Orange and White Game, which is slated for Saturday, April 26, at Lane Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.

“I am excited,” Clark said. “I always take copious notes of the spring game.”

Beamer’s presentation will be followed by a question--and-answer session and then photo opportunities with those in attendance.

“It is nice, informal, small event where you can really have some one-on-one time with the coach and the other representatives that come from Tech,” Clark said. “Then you get the inside scoop on the new recruiting class and how spring practice has been going.”

Virginia Tech has been part of Clark’s life for much of her life, having served as a Hokie Ambassador during her tenure in Blacksburg, helping to lure potential recruits to the school.

“I did more academic recruiting. I would go out to the high schools and talk about Tech,” Clark said. “We worked with the alumni groups when they come back to school for reunions and we did fundraising.”

In a way, 27 years later, her role remains much the same.

“Anytime I get to talk about Tech is a good day,” she said.

Clark, who is now Family Court Judge in Mercer County and McDowell counties and in charge of the drug court in McDowell, is still an avid supporter of Virginia Tech.

Some things never change.

“What impresses me most is the thing that doesn’t change,” said Clark, who hosted a double graduation in drug court on Tuesday in Welch, with West Virginia Supreme Court justices Brent Benjamin and Robin Davis in attendance. “Obviously the stadium is bigger, obviously the crowd is bigger, obviously there is more of a production as far as fireworks and entertainment and that kind of thing.

“What never changes is the way Hokie fans feel about one another and how they support their school in good times and bad times.”

Today marks the worst of times at Virginia Tech, the seventh anniversary of the on-campus shooting that left 33 students and instructors dead. Clark will always recall how so many came together in support of the school during that time.

“They always have, we are coming up on the anniversary of the tragedy,”  Clark said. “While we don’t like to dwell on that, what I thought was amazing in the aftermath is the maturity of the students and the kindness of all the colleges that gathered together to support the university and the way the local communities came together and supported the university as well, even some that were wearing blue and gold.”

It isn’t just football where Virginia Tech athletics have grown.

“It is a amazing and not just with football, but with the expansion of the basketball practice facility, it is really amazing,” Clark said. “The expansion of that, the expansion of English Field, the girls softball field, both soccer facilities and now football is getting their indoor practice facility...

“Baseball has really come on strong, girls softball has been strong, boys golf has been strong, the wrestling team has been amazing.”

Clark had hoped to secure a visit from new men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams, but he will be unable to attend.  

“We are excited to see what he is going to bring to the team,” Clark said. “I think he is going around to some of these Hokie dinners, but his schedule didn’t allow him to attend ours.”

There is also a silent auction and raffle at the caravan stop, including an autographed football signed by Beamer and a soccer ball signed by the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team, which finished among the top four teams in the country in the fall.

Overall, Clark feels like this event is definitely worth the price, which is lower than other similar college coaching caravan stops in the region.

“It has been our goal to keep it affordable so that everybody can come and enjoy it as opposed to actually fundraising for our club,” Clark said.

For more information or to secure tickets for the April 30 Orange and White Caravan,   contact Clark at (304)-922-8544.

—Contact Brian Woodson

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