When the cameras pan Lane Stadium Sept. 26 and viewers are overwhelmed by sea of maroon, when the opposing football team scans the stands Oct. 29 and orange is the predominant color, the camaraderie and spirit of Virginia Tech will be seen and felt by legions of fans.

It’s not just by accident that football enthusiasts show up in the university colors at specified games each fall. The Hokie Effect was started in 2003 by the Virginia Tech Student Government Association (SGA) to increase school spirit and boost morale.

This fall, the Sept. 26 football game against Miami has been designated the Maroon Effect game. The Orange Effect game takes place Oct. 29 against University of North Carolina. “In the past, we have estimated that 80 percent of the attendees in the stadium are wearing the designated colors. It can be intimidating to the opponents to face such a visual symbol of Hokie spirit,” said Chris Sykes from Newtown, Pa., a junior majoring in business management in the Pamplin College of Business. Sykes is Hokie Effect director for the SGA.

The Hokie Effect program has grown rapidly since its inception six years ago, when just 4,500 orange shirts were sold out of the SGA office. In 2005, a maroon shirt was added. By 2008, more than 92,000 shirts were sold. The SGA says they’re hoping Hokie Effect sales will surpass 100,000 this fall.

Shirts help support programming

Priced to sell, the Hokie Effect shirts are $10 for the orange long-sleeved shirt and $6 for the maroon short-sleeved shirt, or with a price of $12 for both shirts. Proceeds benefit SGA projects.

Brandon J. Carroll from Poolesville, Md., a senior majoring in financial planning in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and SGA president said, “First and foremost, the Hokie Effect helps funds our initiatives, which include Relay for Life and the Big Event, along with various initiatives having to do with sustainability and student services,” said Carroll. “Our goals, values, and priorities revolve around the student body and their needs and concerns. The more shirts that we sell, the more that we can do for the student body.”

Sykes says the cooperation of the University Bookstore is key to the success of the Hokie Effect, and that the process of planning a successful Hokie Effect is a year-long endeavor. Donald J. Williams, executive director of Virginia Tech Services Inc. and the University Bookstore, said it is a rewarding experience to work with the SGA on the Hokie Effect.

“We believe in their program. We are a student centered store and we want to help by lending our education and experience to the project.” That includes advice, consultation, and assistance with everything from the initial request for proposals from vendors, to licensing agreements, analysis of inventory, the timing of orders, transportation and warehousing, marketing efforts, and weekly sales and inventory reports. “The hands-on management experience the students get is invaluable. They are smart, committed, and work hard on this program,” said Williams.

Where to get the shirts

The Hokie Effect shirts are sold exclusively through the University Bookstore, which is a non-profit corporation that returns all profits to Virginia Tech for student related scholarships and improvements.

Hokie Effect shirts are available at the University Bookstore on Kent Street across from the Blacksburg library, Volume Two Bookstore located on University City Boulevard in Blacksburg, the Dietrick General Store on campus, the stadium stores in Lane Stadium, and at the University Bookstore website.

Each year, new slogans and designs are chosen for the Hokie Effect T-shirts. Allison Bhatta of Midlothian, Va., and Mike Payne of Manassas, Va., submitted the winning designs for the 2009 Hokie Effect shirts. Both Bhatta and Payne are seniors majoring in visual communication design in the School of Visual Arts, College of Architecture and Urban Studies. The orange shirt, designed by Bhatta, has the slogan “You can't take the VT out of victory.” The maroon shirt, designed by Payne, says “We challenge you to walk down our Lane.”

Payne said, “Our intro to graphic design class was offered the opportunity to compete against each other on these two shirt designs. I like using typography and letters to enhance the design. I thought using big blocky really represented Lane Stadium. I've also always wanted to have an effect shirt that had the HokieBird on it.” Payne is owner of 703studios, a freelance design company he started in 2009.

Bhatta said, “I was going home for the weekend and was trying to think of ideas on the drive. I jotted some things down on the back of a bank receipt and went to work on some designs when I got home. Our original slogan had the word victory in it and I wanted to keep that word involved.”

The results of Hokie Effect are also felt in the nearby small town of Buena Vista, Va., where the Hokie Effect shirts have been produced for five of the past six years. “We were one of the original partners with the SGA on this program,” said Christine Kelley, director of commercial sales at Sayre Enterprises Inc. “This is a great project for the SGA to administer while learning hands-on the fundamentals of business both from a sale perspective and a manufacturing perspective.”

The Hokie Effect shirts are a very substantial order for Sayre. “This program helps create and sustain jobs here at Sayre, from those who do the screen printing of the shirts to the folks needed to make sure 100,000 shirts are packaged and shipped correctly,” said Kelly. It really is a team effort to make sure we fulfill our obligations to the SGA. The commitment has been tremendous, with employees working overtime and weekends to make sure we hit our delivery marks. There has been great management of the program by the SGA, not to mention the graphics on the shirts are really dynamic. No doubt this will be a banner year and we are glad to be part of it.”