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Hokies Football Team Begins Practice With Heavy Hearts

August 5, 2007

The Hokies football team has more riding on it this year than just winning and losing.

As the players return for their first week of practice they say they hope their performance on the field honors the memory of the 32 killed on their campus in April.

The names of the 32 victims are printed in the team's media guide, and game jerseys feature a memorial patch.

Linebacker Vince Hall says he understands that people are going to look to the team to bring a little something back to the school. He and his teammates say they embrace the opportunity to help in the healing.

"The football team is the window to Virginia Tech," said defensive end Chris Ellis. "We carry that torch and we carry it proudly."

The Hokies also see the season as a chance to, on behalf of the school, thank a nation that responded to the horror of the shootings with contributions of money and support.

"People outside of Virginia Tech felt like they were a part of Virginia Tech. That means a lot to us to know that they cared that much about us," said tailback Kenny Lewis said.

Last year, as a break from practice before the opener, the Hokies went bowling one night. This season, coach Frank Beamer said, they're holding a car wash and will be accepting donations for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.

The Hokies are expected to make the school proud this season. They were the overwhelming choice of media voters to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

The Hokies open at home against East Carolina on September 1st.

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