I was…the VT Quarterback
April 16th, 2007 started like most for me. I didn’t get up until about 9 am, as I had my first class at around 11 am. After I had gotten ready, I was eating breakfast when my roommate, Justin Born, texted me telling me that students were evacuating campus; some idiot that made a bomb threat or something.
So, I just shrugged it off and I was kind of pumped that there was no school. Within about five minutes, Justin, along with others, including my sister Katie, were sending me texts saying they heard rumors that there had been a shooting.
I immediately turned on the TV, and there on the news, was my campus staring back at me with police cars and ambulance everywhere. I remember watching, with my roommates and some other friends, thinking that the two confirmed dead was bad enough. I’ll never, ever forget, that when the police chief came on to make a statement, I believe around noon or 1 pm, and announced that at least 20 were confirmed dead, I felt numb. No one in the room, about 6 of us, could speak for at least a minute. Immediately the calls from family members started flowing in. Mine were lucky enough to receive answers.
It’s funny how 364 days a year you feel one way, and then one day each year, emotions and feelings come flooding back like it just happened.
Being quarterback on the football team, and being from the same high school as two of the victims, Reema Samaha and Erin Peterson, along with the shooter, thrust me into a position of representing Virginia Tech in the face of this tragedy. I wasn’t positive how to act at first; I wasn’t sure whether to represent how we were going to overcome this, and turning a negative into a positive, or to do my best to focus on the victims and how fortunate the rest of us were for still being here today.
I almost felt guilty, because I was not a victim at all; the people representing VT on behalf of this tragedy should have been the ones that were in Norris Hall that day and came out alive. However, I did realize how important football was on this campus, and how intimately it brings this campus and community together. The first time that everyone would really be back together would be at that first football game of the 2007 season, against ECU, so I saw the position that we were setting ourselves up for. As crazy as it seems, football was going to be a medicine of sorts for this community, and to this day knowing that I had a part in that is an honor.
It’s funny how 364 days a year you feel one way, and then one day each year, emotions and feelings come flooding back like it just happened last week. It’s a day that no Hokie who was there will ever forget; just like everyone remembers where they were on 9/11, we will all remember April 16th.
To me, it’s a day to think about the victims and their families, and reflect upon how fortunate and blessed the rest of us are that we are still here. neVer forgeT.