BLACKSBURG (WSLS10)-- It's been less than six months since Justin Fuente was announced the new head coach at Virginia Tech. Now he and his family are getting adjusted to life in their new home of Blacksburg.
After coaching his final game in Memphis, Coach Fuente and his wife, Jenny, decided it was time to tell their three daughters the big news, that they'd be moving to Virginia Tech. They decided the perfect way to tell the girls about the move, was by using the Hokies' well known entrance tradition-- Enter Sandman.
"Justin brought out the iPad and we showed them the entrance, Enter Sandman in the stadium," says Jenny. "And Justin said, 'Isn't that cool?' And our oldest said, 'Yeah! Yeah! Yeah, that's really cool!' And Justin said, "That's going to be our new team.' She was really excited."
Coach Fuente and his family have heard the song played at other sporting events, but haven't felt the full impact of more than 66,000 fans jumping in Lane Stadium. Jenny says she and the girls were on their way to football practice recently, when they heard the Virginia Tech anthem playing at the softball field.
"As we were leaving, they were playing it," she says. "We could hear people stomping their feet. I immediately got goosebumps. I said to my girls and another coach's daughter was with us. I said, 'Can you guys believe that? They're going to play that in the fall.' I feel like everybody in Blacksburg has been to the game except for us, so we're looking forward to being a part of that too."
They'll get their first real taste of the massive Virginia Tech fan base this weekend, when the VT Spring Game kicks off Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Although Coach Fuente and his family have lived in the City of Memphis for the past few years, he's originally from Oklahoma. He says he knew he always wanted to get back to an area where he can do some of the outdoor activities he loves, like fishing and hiking.
"I don't think I would do well with a job that didn't allow me to go outside and play, which is kind of what practice is," he says.
For his family, practice is also a time for his wife and girls to interact with some of the other coaches' families. Coach Fuente says he has an open door policy on families at practice, with many of the coaches bringing their kids and grandkids every now and then. When that happens, things can get a little girly on the sidelines-- as the number of kids that are girls way outnumber the boys.
"It just must be something in the water," says Coach Fuente. "We haven't had a lot of boys on the staff, historically. There's a lot of squealing and yelling. One day we were transferring from the practice field. We were going from the grass to the indoor area and a bunch of girls were sitting in a circle by the garage doors. When the players came running, you could just hear squealing and pigtails everywhere."
Whether it's his own kids, those of his coaching staff or young Virginia Tech fans, Coach Fuente says its always interesting to watch how the players interact with them.
Coach Fuente and his wife, Jenny are very close to many of the assistant coaches and staff who he's known and worked with for years. One of his assistant coaches, Galen Scott, is actually the one who introduced him to Jenny.
"There are two stories," says Jenny. "There's my version and Justin's. But Coach Scott was an athlete at Illinois State, I was also an athlete. He was a year ahead of me. I was in grad school, working with the volleyball team. When we met, Justin and Galin were coaching together at that time too."
"He kind of facilitated it. And then Jenny obviously stalked me for a year or two after that," laughs Coach Fuente. "But really, he kind of facilitated the meeting and we hit it off pretty well."
While Coach Fuente has always been big on football, Jenny is pretty athletic herself-- as she mentioned, she played volleyball in college.
Coach says he had never been to Blacksburg before recently, the first time he ever stepped foot in the New River Valley was right before it was announced that he would be taking over the head coaching position at Virginia Tech. After that announcement was made, he and his family traveled to Blacksburg. They say they were floored by the huge reaction and excitement from the Virginia Tech community over their visit.
"Less than 24-hours and [the girls] are in the new city they're going to live in," says Jenny. "To have bags given to us, pom-poms, the Hokie Bird there and the cheerleaders. It's just a great sense of welcoming, and we keep saying the feeling is mutual. We're so happy to be here and we feel welcomed from everybody."
Now that they're here for good, Coach Fuente and Jenny say they've been doing some exploring with their three daughters. They've played in the snow, gone for hikes and spent a lot of time at football practice-- which means they're also working to teach their girls about their new team, the Hokies.
"Cecelia, our oldest, has a much bigger perspective of winning and losing and the game, she's kind of curious about it," says Coach Fuente.
"We're still just trying to train the little one on where we live now," says Jenny. "Teach them what our mascot is now and that kind of thing."
Coach Fuente says his younger daughters take pride in learning the school colors and logo, while their oldest is now more concerned about winning.