Here are the Hokies in your neighborhood by Sally Harris

From 1998 to 2002, Britta Long (communication '02) and Jessica Klacynski (housing, interior design, and resource management '02) attended Virginia Tech. Although they had mutual friends and graduated in the same commencement ceremony, they never met.

Following graduation, Long moved to Tallahassee to work in the admissions office at Florida State University (FSU) and pursue a master's degree. Several months later, Klacynski also relocated to Tallahassee for graduate studies--living just a mile or so down the road from Long--and took a job in the university's ticket office. Despite working in the same building, the two women didn't meet until Klacynski contacted the Tallahassee Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. "Two years later, we have such a good friendship," Long says. "We're really able to relate. Having the Hokie connection has been great."

Hokies at Bub'sRooting for the Hokies in San Diego
Long and Klacynski are but two of the many Hokies who have connected because of regional chapters of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. With approximately 183,000 alumni across the nation and around the world, the university relies on its 113 alumni chapters and clubs to give Hokies far and wide a place to call home--and a way not only to have some fun, but to give something back to their communities.

Chapter activities run the gamut from game parties to picnics, happy-hour gatherings, and fundraising efforts for scholarships and selected causes, such as the HokieBird Fights Hunger campaign, a service-oriented endeavor in which chapters work at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, conduct canned-food drives, provide baskets of food, and purchase turkeys at Thanksgiving. In addition, some chapters incorporate a regional flair into their activities: on Virginia's Eastern Shore, they have oyster roasts; down in Houston, they have crawfish boils; and out in San Diego, they have pig pickin's with other ACC-university chapters.

As expected, geography can influence a chapter's membership numbers. While most Tech alumni live in the mid-Atlantic, three of the largest concentrations of Hokies are situated quite a distance from Blacksburg: Florida has the third highest number, California the fourth, and Texas the seventh. Not coincidentally, the smallest is one of the farthest away--the Hawaii chapter with 23 proud members.

Here's a peek into the activities of these far-flung chapters.


Because of its heavy concentration of Tech alumni, Florida needs six chapters spread across the state to accommodate all those Hokies.

In Tallahassee, alumni contact Jim Pennington (mining engineering '74) reports that the chapter has become even more active in the wake of Tech's entry into the ACC.

Alumni who work or study at FSU root for the Seminoles, he adds, "except when they're playing the Hokies!" And proving that the Hokie spirit thrives well outside Blacksburg, Pennington notes, "Most of my socializing with fellow Hokies is at the game-watching parties."

At the other end of the state, alumni who belong to the South Florida Chapter (and typically live in or near West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale) socialize frequently, including regular attendance at Marlins games, says Kevin Wells (computer engineering '99).

"Our careers are varied, but a number of folks, myself included, came down to work for Motorola when the company had two large plants in South Florida," Wells says. "I know at least 10 Hokies presently or previously employed with Motorola down here." He also believes that many Hokies took jobs there because of the weather: "It is South Florida, after all." And at least one alumnus has yoked his love of the balmy outdoors with his loyalty to Tech: Wil Allanson (industrial engineering '57) christened his first boat, a 40-foot blue-water sailboat, the Happy Hokie.

Jacksonville alumni

Catching a game in Jacksonville

"Many of us are transplants from other places," Wells says. "Being so far away from home gives us a greater appreciation when we meet other Hokies. In fact, someone I had never met stopped me in a parking lot the other day and told me he was a Hokie after he had seen my Virginia Tech license-plate frame."

These Hokies can even boast that they get to see the Tech football team play--in person and close to home. "Living close to the Orange Bowl gives us the unique opportunity to see one of the biggest games of the season when the football team visits every other year," Wells adds.

At the very top of the Sunshine State, the Jacksonville chapter is in good part populated by alumni drawn there by the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, says Jim Neddo (mechanical engineering '95). As a result, among its civic activities, for Christmas, the chapter sponsored a U.S. Navy ship, sending money, non-perishable foods, drink mixes, magazines, and cards.

The chapter, which also hosts a student cookout each year and takes in Jacksonville Suns baseball games, seems to have a special advantage on game days: not only does former HokieBird (and current Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville) Curtis Dvorak (communication '96) live there, so do former Tech football players Nathaniel Adibi (housing, interior design, and resource management '03), Eugene Chung, Tony Joe, Nick Sorensen (marketing management '00), and Ernest Wilford (sociology '03).


Lest you think that only the East Coast chapters come out in droves to support the Hokies, president of the San Diego chapter Vickie Burke (humanities, science, and technology '88) reports otherwise. Bub's Dive Bar, owned by Barry Brown (biochemistry '89), "gets packed--50 to 100 people for all game parties," Burke says. "They had to turn people away for the bowl game." And all that celebrating is for a good cause--raffles held at Bub's parties enabled the chapter to award two student scholarships last year.

As with Florida, the lovely weather and beaches attract many alums to San Diego, says Burke. "At the beginning of football season, we see new people, and some say they just drove out here without a job." Fortunately, the chapter's website (http://www.vatechalumni.com/SanDiego) gives newcomers a place to post résumés and land jobs, she adds.

Hokies in San Diego
Or alumni can follow the path of Charlie Lloyd (finance '73). After a career in the aerospace industry, in 2002, Lloyd moved to Bishop, Calif., a small town in the Eastern Sierra, and opened two Learning Express toy stores--one in Bishop and one in ski-and summer-resort town Mammoth Lakes. "The ski slopes are five minutes from the Mammoth store," Lloyd comments. "I can ski for a few hours in the morning and be at the store by 10 a.m. It is a very different lifestyle than the corporate world."

The corporate world, including the wireless industry and the biomedical field, nonetheless remains California's greatest draw. Burke is a prime example, having moved to San Diego when Booz Allen & Hamilton, the international consulting firm in McLean, Va., relocated 25 people to the West Coast to work with the Navy fleet stationed there. Other alumni have experienced similar luck--some 350 were moved to Sacramento by Intel, according to Connie Gallippi (natural resource management '99).

Not surprisingly, the entertainment industry also lures many a Hokie to California, as was the case for Catherine Tweel (communication '93). An attorney for TBS and TNT cable networks, Tweel negotiates and drafts contracts for deals with agents and other entertainment lawyers to employ talent, writers, producers, and production companies. Finding no alumni chapter when she first arrived in Los Angeles, Tweel and Newton Lee (computer science '82; M.S. '83), who works with the Disney Internet Group, established one. These days, Tweel is setting up a network of "Hokies in Hollywood" (http://www.LAHokies.org) to help those trying to break into show business.

Of course, where there are Hokies, there's the Tech-U.Va. rivalry, and so it goes in Los Angeles. The L.A. chapter is pleased to report that at last year's second annual Hokies vs. 'Hoos golf tournament, the Hokies beat the Wahoos--again. But it's not always just about fun and games in La-la-land: each year, the L.A. chapter helps 150 underprivileged kids shop for Christmas presents in a program sponsored by Mervyn's and the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank; works with The Giving Spirit, an organization that assists the homeless; and plants trees in area parks.


It's true--Texas is big. So big, attests Houston chapter president Shelley Tyree (geology '98; M.S. '01), that "Harris County alone is almost as large as Southwest Virginia. It's a couple hours' drive across Houston." And when the three chapters in the Lone Star State get together, as happened at Tech's football game against Texas A&M in College Station, some members had to drive as much as five hours to attend. (In addition to the Houston chapter, there are chapters in Austin/San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth.)

In spite of Houston's sprawl, it seems there are Hokies everywhere, among them, computer scientists, engineers, geoscientists, and accountants, most drawn to Texas by the oil and aeronautical industries, including NASA. Some of Houston's larger suburban areas have entire clusters of alumni who plan events in their own neighborhoods.

Tyree, who works only a couple of floors away from the nearest Hokies, but is surrounded by employees from Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, staunchly fills her office with Hokie pennants, statues, and wall art--even a maroon-and-orange flower arrangement. "People see my stuff and say, 'I work with a Hokie' or 'I'm a Hokie,'" she says. "I'm amazed at the number of people who will stop and talk to me because of it."


Although the Aloha State's chapter is Tech's smallest, Hokies still meet Hokies in Hawaii. "We have alumni spread across most of the islands," says Matthew Rowe (civil engineering '00). "However, the largest concentration of alumni is on the island of O'ahu, where most of the business in Hawaii takes place."

The military draws a number of alumni to Hawaii, as does the Civilian Department of Defense, where Rowe works. Other alumni are in the hotel and hospitality-management business--and quite a few, Rowe adds, simply retire there to enjoy the blue seas and skies. And even with the great distances among the state's six islands, some Hokies live close enough together to socialize fairly regularly, sometimes "meeting in downtown Honolulu or Waikiki after work," Rowe says.

VT surfboardChapter socials held outside football season only average about five people, but for football-watching parties, "we usually have a larger crowd," Rowe reports, "anywhere from five to 15. I know that doesn't sound like a crowd, but when I see 10 or more people there, I'm very pleased with the showing of spirit."

Hawaii's Hokies like to gather at the All Star Hawaii sports bar on the beach in Waikiki, Rowe says (a dozen Hokies and three Auburn fans showed up to watch the Sugar Bowl). "All Star Hawaii is our regular place to watch football games because it's the only sports bar that opens early enough," Rowe says. "Being six hours behind Eastern Standard Time, Hawaii suffers a severe time-zone problem. If it's a 1 p.m. game on Saturday, it's only 7 a.m. here. Yet, you will still find a small group of us at All Star Hawaii watching the game and eating breakfast."

Rowe, who painted his surf board with a Hokie motif, reports that he recently met a naval officer, Drummond Boord, whose wife, Angel (Palmer) Boord (political science '94), is finishing a tour in support of the tsunami relief mission before joining her husband in Hawaii. When Boord caught sight of Rowe's Tech class ring, he exclaimed, "Oh God! Not another one of you! I've never seen anyone with as much school spirit as a Hokie. You guys are like a cult. However, [my wife] will be really happy to meet you."


Yes, Hokies are fanatical, but rumors of a cult have been greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, it's a small world indeed, and alumni never know when they're going to run across someone who recognizes their "VT" or who knows that there's a perfectly good reason to wear burnt orange with maroon. Welcoming Hokies everywhere, the Virginia Tech Alumni Association chapters help make the world just that much smaller for those who were lucky enough to attend the state university of Virginia.

To connect with Hokies near you or to learn more about Virginia Tech Alumni Association chapters, call 540/231-6285 or go to http://www.vatechalumni.com.

Sally Harris is a communications manager in University Relations.


Bub's in San Diego

It's a matter of fact: No matter where they are, Virginia Tech alumni like to hang out in sports bars when the TVs are tuned to Hokie games. And that special programming is always a given at two West Coast hangouts founded by Tech alumni.

In San Diego, Hokies from out of town quickly discover that Bub's, co-founded by Barry Brown (biochemistry '89) and his brother, Todd, is a place to meet other Hokies. A family from Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., showed up for Thanksgiving with an infant decked out in Virginia Tech attire. Another family from Suffolk, Va., brought in their two children, says Vickie Burke, president of the San Diego alumni chapter.

Part of the fun at Bub's, Burke notes, is meeting former Hokies athletes. According to Brown, the NFL rookie symposium, which is required of all draftees, is held in San Diego, and Hokies usually drop by to sign a Virginia Tech banner. "Bub's is a Virginia Tech bar located in San Diego," he adds.

A haven for Hokies in the Northwest, the People's Pub in Seattle, co-founded by Jon Norris (science and technology studies '90), was named one of Seattle's Top 10 Bars by Citysearch editors, and Seattle Weekly considers the pub one of its 100 Favorite Seattle Restaurants. Emphasizing Virginia Tech football by tuning in to all Hokie games and offering discounted food and drink items to those wearing VT logos or colors on game day, the pub also hosts Hokie social gatherings the second Saturday of each month.

And for those searching for other places to congregate, not to worry--Hokies are converting the masses. In Jacksonville, Fla., the favored gathering hole is the Amsterdam Café, and in Los Angeles, there are two favorites: Hollywood Billiards and Aloha Sharkeez. In Hawaii, Hokies converge on All Star Hawaii, simply because it's the only sports bar open early enough to show football games played in Eastern Standard Time.

Amidst all that excitement, the Tallahassee chapter's favorite watering hole wins the sports-bar name trophy: the Tech folks in Florida meet at the Smokey Bones BBQ.


The 10 largest alumni chapters outside of Virginia are Atlanta (3,587), Research Triangle Park (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Greenville, N.C.) (3,434), Baltimore (3,218), Charlotte, N.C. (2,907), Pittsburgh (2,282), Philadelphia (1,953), Northern California (1,782), Denver (1,730), and Houston (1,296). The smallest chapter is Hawaii with 23 members.