Virginia Tech Magazine
Alumni Association
Summer 2009

Alumni Association News
Tailgating Hokie style

Another season in Lane Stadium is around the corner, and thousands of Hokie fans are already planning to travel to campus for the traditional ritual of pre- and post-game tailgating. Stadium parking lots are opened several hours before the game begins, and they are quickly filled with cars, vans, SUVs, and trucks carrying tailgate paraphernalia and enough food to feed several times the vehicle's occupants. Pre-prepared food is served on portable tables or from the open backs of vehicles. Folding chairs and tents are a common sight, and some tailgates even sport flagpoles flying the Hokie colors. Grills throughout the parking lots sizzle with burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and even salmon--and some menus include "beverages of the day." Tailgates often attract other game-goers or join with nearby festivities to multiply the food, conversation, and fun. Kids tossing footballs and Frisbees keep neighbors alert and often help fellow fans strike up conversations.

Most games are scheduled for mid-day on Saturdays, and tailgating veterans know that even if the September, October, or early November sun is shining brightly, layered clothing is always a wise choice in Blacksburg. Post-game, traffic flows from the various parking lots for several hours because many fans choose to linger at their tailgate, relaxing, socializing, and enjoying Bill Roth's post-game interviews and wrap-up on the Hokie Sports radio network.

There is no question that tailgating is a popular part of Hokie football culture. Fans will even extend a warm welcome to tailgating fans of the other team, showing their Hokie Respect. Virginia Tech is known in the ACC and beyond for its hospitality, and there always seems to be evidence of that at tailgates.

Hokie truck owned by the Bob Bowden family
Hokie truck owned by the Bob Bowden family

The Bob Bowden (physics '58; Ph.D. '63) family ritual is to take none other than the HokieBird tailgating. Yes, a life-sized HokieBird accompanies the family in their 1968 short-bed Chevy pickup truck. Their special guest garners waves, cheers, honks, and other signs of Hokie spirit on the drive to and from the game. While the family eats, their HokieBird usually sits on the tailgate of the truck, always a favorite of kids of all ages and a prime choice for that special Kodak moment.


Every year for the past decade, the Hokie Man, Mike Schroder (hotel, restaurant, and institutional management '92; M.S. education '94), has organized a catered tailgate event with Professional Catering. His wife, Beth (hotel, restaurant, and institutional management '94; hospitality and tourism management '99), and son, Caleb, help host. The event features a tent, lights for night games, tables, linens--in burnt orange and Chicago maroon, of course--flower arrangements, and food and beverage stations.
Hokie Man, Mike Schroder, and family
The Schroders host at least one tailgate at a home game, and most years hold two, usually for a Thursday night game and a Saturday game. Their tailgates traditionally serve filet mignon sandwiches; Hokie Jell-O; and the famous Hokie Man Dip, which includes shredded turkey, buffalo wing sauce, a special-blend hot sauce with home-grown, finely chopped hot peppers, and blue cheese dressing, all mixed and layered in a casserole dish, baked for 20 minutes, and served hot with sliced French bread, crackers, or Fritos Scoops. Another tradition is a face-painting session where anyone at the tailgate can be painted exactly like the Hokie Man. There are usually at least a dozen participants each year, although others come already decked out with Hokie pride and ready for a Hokie win.
George and Siham Oley and Jacqueline and Quentin Nottingham
Jacqueline Nottingham (family and child development '88) and her husband Quinton (statistics '89; M.S. '91; Ph.D. '95) have been tailgating since they returned to live and work at Virginia Tech in 1990. In the mid '90s, they were assigned home-game parking spots near George (chemistry '75) and Siham Oley of Richmond. Each couple held two spaces, and they joined with Jeff and Sandra (M.A. education curriculum and instruction '81) Birch for a total of five adjoining spaces.

Today, the families' tailgates include two tents; tables for food and refreshments; grills; a generator for blenders, Crock Pots, and toaster ovens; several coolers for drinks; and trash cans. And if the weather is cool? Not a problem: the tents include sides and heaters. The tailgates also feature a satellite dish with Tivo for pre- and post-game television watching and a picnic table and folding chairs. In 2005, several extra guests were accommodated thanks to a pig-roasting grill. If they sound prepared, that's because each year, before the first home game, the Nottinghams have a trial-run tailgate in their back yard, setting up the tents, checking supplies, and cooking on the grills to make sure that everything is set for the season.

About 50 regulars come or stop by these tailgates. At other times, some familiar faces can be spotted, including Ace Custis, Bimbo Coles, Ray Crittenden (liberal arts and sciences '92), College of Science Dean Lay Nam Chang, and former President Paul Torgersen. Luckily, their tailgates always offer more than enough food, all of it delicious and most of it homemade. Favorites include Lebanese food, large shrimp, oysters, pork barbecue, Crock Pot macaroni and cheese or Crock Pot spaghetti, and lamb chops.

1 lb. ground turkey breast
1/2 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 package crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup hot sauce
3 scallions, green and white parts sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
A couple of handfuls celery sticks
A couple of handfuls carrot sticks

Erice (Weikel) Muddiman '02 with her husband

Ahead of time:
In a large bowl, mix the turkey, onion, garlic, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place about two tablespoons of the mixture in your hand and press a clump of the blue cheese into the center. Shape the meat around the cheese to form a ball. Store in sealable container. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and then add hot sauce. Transfer to a sealable container.

At the tailgate:
Arrange meatballs on a nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Grill until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Use a small sauce pan to reheat the butter-hot-sauce mixture. (For best results, use a gas grill slow cooker.) Once meatballs are cooked, toss in hot sauce mixture until completely coated. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with carrot and celery sticks on the side.

Submitted by Erica (Weikel) Muddiman '02, pictured above with her husband


jalapeno peppers
20 medium jalapenos
1 lb. hot Italian ground sausage
1 block Philadelphia Cream Cheese
20 pieces of bacon (cut in half for wrapping)

Ahead of time:
Cut jalapenos lengthwise and remove most of the seeds (which make the peppers hotter). Brown the hot Italian sausage, making sure that the sausage is very well ground, and drain the grease. Remove the cream cheese from the package and microwave it for about 90 seconds. Mix the sausage with the cream cheese, and then stuff each jalapeno with the mixture, approximately one tablespoon in each pepper. Wrap the jalapeno horizontally with a half slice of uncooked bacon, then secure with a toothpick. Bake the H-O-K-I-E Poppers in the oven for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the bacon is completely cooked.

(Alternate option) At the tailgate:
Grill the uncooked poppers for about 60 minutes on the grill or until the bacon is completed cooked. Makes 40 poppers.

Submitted by Debbie Barackman-Flippo (marketing '83)


Since the early '90s, Rich (management '67; M.S. business administration '69) and Libby Carpenter have invited all the student cadets from E Company to join their tailgate during one game each fall. Libby also has made her Good Luck Brownies for every home game for approximately 20 years and especially for every E Company tailgate.
E Company cadets

View more recipe submissions at

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