For Virginia Tech football fans feeling uncertain about this season, a new book offers the chance to bask in the past.
Andy Bitter, a former Roanoke Times sports writer who now covers the Hokies football team for The Athletic website, has written “100 Things Virginia Tech Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die.” The book went on sale last month.
The book offers a thorough history of Virginia Tech football, with most of the 100 chapters devoted to that sport. Bitter looks back at plenty of big names, such as Frank Beamer and Bruce Smith, and memorable seasons, such as the 1999 campaign that culminated in the national championship game.
“It’s obviously going to bring back good memories,” Bitter said. “It’s a fun stroll down memory lane for a lot of people, but I can’t go into it assuming people know all this stuff. There’s a younger generation that kind of doesn’t know about the contributions of Bruce Smith or Eugene Chung.”
The book examines more than just the Beamer era. The inaugural Tech football game in 1892 is covered, as is the 1947 season that ended with a Sun Bowl berth.
“I think a lot of Virginia Tech fans think that Hokies football started with Frank Beamer in 1987, but there’s this whole history before that that you try to explore,” he said.
Bitter also touches on other aspects of the university, such as a chapter on the April 16 memorial and a chapter on the Corps of Cadets.
The publisher, Triumph Books, approached Bitter last year with the idea of adding Virginia Tech to its “100 Things” series, which previously included books about everything from the New York Yankees to the Oklahoma Sooners to “Star Wars.”
Bitter’s book is not a comprehensive look at Virginia Tech athletics. Men’s basketball got six chapters. Baseball got just two chapters — one on ex-coach Chuck Hartman and one on the Yankees’ 2008 exhibition game at Tech. Softball is the subject of only one chapter — Tech’s 2008 exhibition upset of the U.S. Olympic team.
There is not even one chapter on track and field; wrestling; men’s and women’s soccer; women’s basketball; or men’s golf.
“I started making a list of important things in Virginia Tech history and most of them are football-related when it comes to athletics, at least the stuff that people really care about a lot,” Bitter said. “The point of the series isn’t necessarily all the different … sports. [Triumph Books] wanted stuff that was kind of in the mainstream, … football/basketball-type things. Those are how the other books in the series have done [it].”
Bitter, 40, covered Tech football for both The Roanoke Times and The Virginian-Pilot from 2011-13, then covered Tech football solely for The Roanoke Times before joining The Athletic last year. He has also worked for The Danville Register & Bee and The (Lynchburg) News & Advance.
In addition to looking back at his old interviews, Bitter also read books and old newspaper articles while researching his book.
Bitter sought feedback from colleagues when compiling his list. He did little breakouts on some of the people who did not make the top 100, such as Darryl Tapp and former assistant athletic director Sharon McCloskey.
“There’s a lot of guys that were probably worth a chapter, but you don’t want to just have a book that’s purely names,” Bitter said. “The tough part was kind of paring it down at the end.”
The topics are ranked in order of importance, with Beamer as chapter No. 1 and Michael Vick No. 2.
“Once you get past … 50, those are all fairly interchangeable,” Bitter said.
Cool exits Salem
After serving in a part-time role on Salem Red Sox radio broadcasts for two years, Suzie Cool has moved north.
Cool was hired last month as a multimedia journalist and in-arena host for the Rochester (New York) Americans of the American Hockey League and the Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League. Both franchises are owned by Terry and Kim Pagula, who also own the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Cool said. “Kind of starting over.”
In addition to her arena hosting role, Cool will do video pieces for the Americans’ YouTube channel and social media channels and will write stories for their website. Her duties for the Knighthawks, an expansion team, are not yet defined.
Cool, 26, is not new to hockey. She spent last season as the arena host for the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs, and also once had that job for an ECHL team.
The Pennsylvania native was the on-field host for the Salem Red Sox for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. She also served as Salem’s marketing and promotions manager this year.
She became the first female broadcaster in Carolina League history in 2018, when she joined then-Salem radio play-by-play announcer Ben Gellman for 40 games as the color commentator.
This year, Cool teamed with Salem radio play-by-play voice Melanie Newman for 15-20 games. A Salem visit to Potomac in April marked the first time a team of two women ever broadcast a Minor League Baseball or Major League Baseball game. Cool also served as the lone broadcaster for another 15-20 games when Newman was off.
Cool was unsure of which career to pursue next.
“During the [Sox] season, I kind of was deciding which way to go. Do I take the marketing and promotions path or the broadcasting/journalism path?” Cool said. “This [Rochester job] felt the most natural. It was definitely the best choice that I had as well, considering the fact that I dreamed of, ever since I was a little girl, being on TV or being the face of a team for somebody or being able to write stories on the players.
“As much as I loved Salem and as much as I love baseball, there always comes a point where it’s time to turn a page and move on and try to really focus on one thing.”
Rochester also has a Triple-A baseball team, so Cool hopes to work for that squad in some capacity next summer.