Double masks off, marching on! The Spirit of Tech reunites for first time since COVID-19 pandemic

“You didn’t even realize you missed it until it was gone.”

Marching Virginians reunite for the first time since the pandemic
WSLS 10's Rachel Lucas features the Marching Virginians during Feel Good Friday on Virginia Today

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The band is back together again and ready to march through Lane Stadium in Blacksburg!

Making music together is just one of the many things COVID-19 kept us from, but for the first time in nearly two years, the Marching Virginians are taking the field.

This week marked the first time the 350-person band practiced marching together since the pandemic began.

“The first time we got together and had everybody play it was like a big sigh of relief,” said Virginia Tech Director of Athletic Bands Polly Middleton. “We got the goosebumps and all of the great things that happen when you get the band back together when it’s been so long since we’ve felt that.”

Playing music as an ensemble is a feeling that can’t be described, only a shared joy that can be heard.

Middleton said marching means a little more this year.

“For a lot of these kids, it’s been two years since they’ve had a marching band experience. So, it’s been a long time,” Middleton said.

Virginia Tech Junior Lauren Chuderewycz got a taste of what college band should be before the pandemic.

“Freshman year we got to march, do our full shows. Obviously with COVID last year - I mean we made it work. We had the double mask,” Chuderewycz said.

But now that the band is marching outdoors, the masks are off.

Chuderewycz said it’s nice to be able to breathe in the fresh air, “So excited. It’s so great to see everyone’s face again.”

That togetherness changes the dynamic of the music they make and the overall marching band experience.

Last year, the group made a video compilation syncing each of its band members playing separately their parts in Virginia Tech’s fight song, “Tech Triumph.”

The video appears as if they were all playing together – giving the effect of the full band.

In contrast to that video performance played separately, on Wednesday, the Marching Virginian leaders played “Tech Triumph” on the field for the first time in what all agree is too long.

The experience was electric.

Coming back together is the perfect way to wrap up Callie Ayala’s senior year, “It makes it awesome. I can’t even. I’m just so excited to be here. There are so many things that we missed. You didn’t even realize you missed it until it was gone type of thing. I’m really excited to finish my senior year with them.”

Callie Ayala with the Marching Virginians her freshman year. (Callie Ayala)

Now they’re prepping for the big performance in Lane Stadium.

“Marching in with all the people, all the energy, all the excitement. There’s just nothing like it,” said Middleton.

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