The Virginia Tech football squad held its final full practice in El Paso, practicing for almost 90 minutes Socorro Sunday afternoon. The practice was a normal Thursday for the squad as the Hokies went through a fast-paced practice, going over the game plan and making any last-minute tweaks for the game with UCLA Tuesday afternoon (12:15 PM local, CBS). While sometimes the Sun Bowl gets a bad rap with chilly weather in the mountains of West Texas, the Hokies continued to catch a break with the weather continued to hover in the 50s with sunshine and little wind although today’s practice was a tad bit chillier than past days.
After practice, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and defensive coordinator Bud Foster went next door to meet the media. Later in the day, head coach Frank Beamer, the coordinators and four players met with the CBS announcing crew of Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce as the trio made their final preparations for the broadcast that hopefully everyone who can’t make it to the game will watch.
Players and staff had a chance to go to the Lucchese Boot Factory to take a tour and buy some of the boots. The company was established in San Antonio in 1883 by Sam Lucchese, Sr., and his brothers. In 1987, the company moved to El Paso, where it is still headquartered. In 2009, the Texas Legislature recognized the company’s contribution to Texan culture by passing a House Resolution.
The official party went to the El Paso Museum of Art, which houses a permanent collection of over 5,000 works of art and is a major cultural resource for West Texas. The evening then transformed into a Mexican holiday celebrated similar to Halloween. This tradition stems as far back as when the Spanish conquistadores came to Mexico in 1519. The festivities included regional Mexican food, dancing matachines, catrinas, mariachis, Mexican Bingo, music and more great entertainment.
While the adults were enjoying dinner, the players, managers, student trainers and videographers got to go pick out their gifts as part of the gift suite provided by the bowl. Each participant was given a certain amount of money to be able to divide up, choosing one big gift such as an electronic device, or several smaller ones. The NCAA allows bowls to give each players a gift package worth a certain amount at wholesale prices without jeopardizing their amateur status.
The day also marked the arrival of the band and cheerleaders into town as the spirit groups will do their part Tuesday to get the team and fans ready for the game. With an 11 p.m. curfew, the players hung out either in the lounge playing video games or pool, or went to their rooms to get an early jump on bed.
Tomorrow will be the team’s last day to get ready with just a luncheon and a walk-thru before going into lockdown to get ready for Tuesday’s early departure and kick.
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