The unbound spirit of the Hokie Nation has reached new heights during the global pandemic, and Saturday, it faces another unprecedented challenge – game day.

Traditionally, Virginia Tech football games in Blacksburg are an epicenter for Hokies of all ages, and especially students. Like much of 2020, however, when North Carolina State travels to Lane Stadium for an 8 p.m. kickoff this Saturday, it will look a little different. Joining alumni and fans, students will be tasked with spreading Hokie cheer while also helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

This means travel to Blacksburg is strongly discouraged for friends and family, tailgating is prohibited, and all Hokies should be serving their communities by avoiding the three “Cs” — closed spaces, crowds, and close contacts.

But there is one “C” that should not be avoided under any circumstances — celebration. Here is a game plan for how students can celebrate while also staying safe and serving others.

PRE-GAME FUN

Download the HokieSports app

Keep up with the latest Virginia Tech Athletics news with this app that includes free live audio, social media streams, scores, and stats. The HokieSports mobile app for iPhone can be downloaded here, while Android users can download the app here.

Prep munchies for your home-gate

Here are a couple of ideas:

Order a Fantastic Frank Sandwich — named after Hall-of-Fame Coach Frank Beamer — to-go from Owens Food Court or make your own with this recipe. Also, try this chocolate chip cookie recipe from Student Engagement and Campus Life.

And no matter what you prepare, be sure to join the Hokie Home-Gating Sweepstakes, presented by Kroger & Coca-Cola. To enter, share a photo of your home-gating set-up on social media using the hashtag #HokiesAtHome. One (1) winner will be selected for each game and will receive supplies from both Kroger and Coca-Cola to outfit their home-gate for the rest of the season.

Create your own Safe Spirit Walk

See how many pieces of Hokie swag you can put on, including your favorite maroon and orange mask, and take a physically distant stroll through some of your favorite outdoor locations.

Bonus points if your pet joins you and for playing Enter Sandman or Tech Triumph while you strut. And if you get a great photo or video to share, be sure to tag @virginia_tech on Twitter and @virginia.tech on Instagram.

Get in a pre-game workout

Rec Sports facilities will be open as normal, including McComas Hall and the turf fields, which are an ideal place to toss around the pigskin.

Exercise your mind and save the HokieBird before the game

Try one, or both, of our escape rooms, Rec Sports Escape Room and Hokie Escape Room, both of which have goal of unlocking the HokieBird.

Pre-game with a game

Bowling, billiards, and more will be available at Breakzone from 1 to 10 p.m.

DURING THE GAME

Join the jumping at a distance

Virtually participate in the iconic team entrance like never before through HokieLights, presented by Coca-Cola. Located within the HokieSports mobile app, you’ll will receive a push notification as the team prepares to take the field in real time, at which point the phone’s flashlight will start blinking to the sounds of the tunnel walk, the “Let’s Go - Hokies” stadium yell, and “Enter Sandman” while video content plays on the phone’s screen.

At the conclusion of the HokieLights presentation, fans will have the opportunity to take a selfie with a custom Tech photo filter and share it on social media using the hashtag #HokiesAtHome.

Play along with Hokies Interactive

Through Hokies Interactive, presented by CMG Leasing, fans can answer real-time questions during the game for a chance to win exclusive prizes. The questions are updated during every break in the action and will reflect the status of the game to that point, giving fans the chance to participate throughout the contest. Hokies Interactive is housed within the HokieSports app and other digital platforms.

Sizzle for all the bacon

Show off your dance moves virtually this season for a chance to win free bacon as part of the Smithfield Sizzle Sweepstakes. To enter, simply record a video of your best dance moves and upload it to your Instagram Story – don’t forget to tag @hokiesports and use the hashtag #VTSmithfieldSizzle. One (1) lucky winner will be selected to receive free bacon from Smithfield.

Test your luck with virtual lottery tickets

You can play a virtual scratch-off ticket presented by the Virginia Lottery within the HokieSports app. Each scratcher will contain a prize, with the grand prize being an exclusive experience at a 2021 Hokie football home game. Fans are encouraged to play weekly as more plays increases the chance of winning the grand prize.

Share your celebration

Tech fans everywhere will be cheering when the Hokies score a touchdown, and this season, you can upload their celebration videos for a chance to win a prize pack courtesy of Coca-Cola. To enter, simply record your touchdown celebration and upload it to social media using the hashtag #HokiesAtHome. One winner will be selected during each game this season.

-- Written by Travis Williams