Spotlight on: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech won the CAN Softball Tournament for the third time this summer, hoisting the Primrose Cup for the second time in three years.

For those who have never won the tournament, the Hokies would seem to be blessed. But their coach, Greg Milas, says that each year provides it own set of challenges.

“I think 2011 was harder.  This is because there had been almost a complete turnover from the 2000 [championship] team.  The vast majority of us didn't know what it would take to win and only knew heartbreak in the tournament,” he said. “In 2013, the majority of the team was made up of folks who were with us in 2011.  And so most of us knew what it took, and could tell those who had joined in 2012 and 2013.”

With a large, local alumni base, the team always has the potential to gain new players. “The team works closely with the alumni board to advertise the team, highlight successes, and promote greater coordination. The chapter uses it's Twitter accounts (@dchokies and @VTAlumniSports) to bring attention the the on-field success of the team,” Milas said.

Despite the addition of rookies this year, the team’s special bond kept problems at bay. “When we started to get a look at our rookies, there was a sense that we could have something real special this year,” the coach said. “But when someone new comes in, someone who’s been around won’t be playing as much.  We knew that this could cause problems, but there really weren’t any.  Again, it is a special team that handles those decisions.”

The team’s players aren’t just active on the team, but within the National Capital Region Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and their events as well. “As the connection between the teams and the chapter has grown so have our rosters and talent. We've also seen more involvement of the softball team within other aspects of the chapter, including Jon Tremonte taking first prize in our annual Chili Cook-Off,” Milas said.

Milas describes both the team and the larger alumni community as tight-knit. That closeness helped the team overcome a slight scheduling snafu at the beginning of the season:

“I had scheduled a doubleheader for that Saturday to get that requirement out of the way early and took Ohio's offer to use their permits along Ohio Drive.  When scheduled in early March, I knew that the Cherry Blossom Parade would be that day, but I figured that the blossoms themselves were never in bloom that late.  With the parade along Constitution Ave, playing softball on Ohio drive next to the FDR should have been easy,” Milas said. “Of course, it was the coolest March in memory and the blossoms were still in bloom on April 13th.  Traffic and parking was an absolute nightmare.  With all of the logistical challenges of playing right in the middle of the Cherry Blossoms, I was worried that folks would back out at the last moment.  Instead, 25 people showed up!”

And, of course, the team that braves tourists together can brave just about anything together. “Our teammates have become strong friends, hanging out together, going to Nats games together, etc.  Our team is a very special group of Hokies,” Milas said.