BLACKSBURG, Virginia – Cheryl Beamer was calm. She’d been through this before, hundreds of times, this being the 424th time (and 357th time at Virginia Tech) to be exact. So while it was only natural for everyone else on that sideline to be nervous, from current Hokies to coaches to the nearly 200 former players who were there to witness a legend’s final home game, Cheryl was at peace, at least on the outside. With a VT hat pulled down low, she adjusted her scarf, cradled her lightly-colored purse with both hands and watched intently as overtime started.
“No matter what happens,” one Virginia Tech staffer told her, “we’re not gonna forget it. That’s for sure.”
People came up and told her how much the Beamer family meant to them. She offered hugs, handshakes, a friendly hand on the back, and kind words. But her eyes always drifted right back to the field. She leaned when the Hokies kicked a field goal during their possession, and put her hands over her mouth when North Carolina scored what would be the deciding touchdown to end the overtime period. And when the replay was over, she started walking out to the field to meet her husband.
He had a sour look on his face when the crowd of reporters, staffers, and cameramen surrounded him. But when Cheryl put her arm around him and whispered in his ear, the coach smiled. He gave an emotional postgame interview to ESPN, walked with her to hug his grandkids, and went back to the 50-yard line to give a speech to the crowd which was hanging on every last chance to see the Virginia Tech coach on the field at Lane Stadium.