Before Virginia Tech came to be known as such today, it went through at least two name changes. Its original name when it was established in 1872 was Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. It became known as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute in 1896. But even as this new name represented what the college stood for, people called it VPI for short. There was an existing college cheer before the name change but it became obvious that it was not suitable for the new name of the college. They held a contest for the purpose of selecting a new college cheer and a student from class of 1896 by the name of O.M. Stull wrote a cheer that would become known as Old Hokie. In keeping with the spirit of the new name of the college and its new cheer, new colors were also needed. Thus, from the original black and gray college colors, Chicago maroon and burnt orange were chosen and official adopted and used on October 26, 1896 as the college played a football game against Roanoke College. In the same year, the college started to use its current motto “That I may serve”, from the Latin “Ut Prosim”.
In 1970, the college proudly added “and State University” to VPI. Virginia Tech Hokies represent the school in various college sports such as basketball, football, baseball and other popular sports in both men and women’s division. Before the Hokies came to be known, they also went through several name changes as well. The school sports teams were known as the “fighting gobblers”. The origins of this name however, are still debated and there exist several theories to the effect. One of the most popular theories was that it was due to comments that the VPI athletes were observed to be “gobbling” their food. The first reference in print to them as Gobblers came out in 1909 and the nickname stuck. This could be the origin of the turkey as the school’s mascot. The mascot itself underwent several makeovers until it came to be what it is today. It became known as the “Hokie mascot”, the “Hokie Bird” or simply the “Hokie”. Today, it appears less of turkey than it is of a bird.
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