Rain forces Hokies inside
Chick-fil-A Bowl Nuggets
December 25, 2006

ATLANTA, Ga. - The Virginia Tech football team put on the pads for the first time since arriving in Atlanta, and went through a short, efficient practice Monday afternoon. The practice was scheduled to be at Georgia Tech's Rose Bowl Field, but chilly weather and a light rain forced the Hokies inside to the Georgia Dome.

While it was a normal Monday for the Hokies, the mood around the hotel was anything but normal as the team and staff celebrated Christmas at the Marriott. All of the players and student staff members, along with the children of the coaching staff, received maroon Santa hats with their names embroidered on them, providing a festive atmosphere all day.

After a nice breakfast, each player was given a "Secret Santa" gift. Each player spent $10 on a gift and gave it John Ballein, who then, with a little help from his elves, wrapped each gift. The players received those gifts, which ranged from gift certificates to gag gifts, at breakfast. Kicker Brandon Pace was looking to swap his gift after receiving a Young Jeezy rap CD.

After breakfast and normal team meetings, Tech's staff put the team through its normal Monday practice as the Hokies continued their normal practice routine leading up to a game. The routine was thrown off a bit because of the rain, but all parties adjusted. The team drove to Georgia Tech to dress and then bussed across town to the Dome for the light practice, before returning to Tech to change and shower.

Head coach Frank Beamer made good use of the unexpected trip inside, letting the kick returners and specialists get some extra work in the facility they'll be playing in Saturday night.

Tech's first night in Atlanta went without incident as all players made it in by Beamer's 2 a.m. curfew. The Hokies' curfew for Monday night is set for 1:30 a.m., but Beamer starts to reel the players in as the week goes along.

Several players said fans shouldn't worry because with last night being Christmas Eve and tonight being Christmas night, there isn't much open in the Downtown Atlanta area.

Tuesday's curfew is 1 a.m. while Wednesday night's curfew will be at 12:30 a.m. The team will have to be in by 11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday night but that doesn't figure to be a problem as the game approaches.

After Monday's practice, Tech's players enjoyed a Christmas lunch and the staff had their annual family pictures taken in front of a Christmas tree in the hotel. Several players even snuck into the line to get their own "family" shots taken.

While most ate at the hotel, Sergio Render awaited a ride to pick him up and take him home for dinner. The Newnan resident, which is 25 minutes from Atlanta, promised not to eat too much, but wanted to spend the day with his family. The players were free to do as they pleased for the remainder of the day after the team lunch.

The Hokies will continue their preparations on Tuesday morning. After practice, the team will go to a welcome party at the ESPN Zone and then to the Georgia Aquarium.