Home A new HokieBird joins two old favorites in new Quillen Spirit Plaza in Blacksburg

A new HokieBird joins two old favorites in new Quillen Spirit Plaza in Blacksburg

Crystal Graham
HokieBird Quillen Spirit Plaza
Image courtesy Virginia Tech

Three HokieBird statues have found a home at Virginia Tech at the Quillen Spirit Plaza in front of Dietrick Hall on the Blacksburg campus. Two statues are known to many VT alums – but one HokieBird has been designed just for the new space.

The Virginia Tech community is invited to take part in a dedication for the new space on Friday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. The dedication will include the Virginia Tech cheerleaders, the HokieBird mascot, Hokie Tracks ice cream and photo opportunities with the HokieBirds.

The statues and plaza are designed to be a major draw on the campus and join the Pylons, the Drillfield, the Duck Pond and the iconic Burruss Hall as a must-see stop on any campus visit.

The plaza is possible thanks to a $2 million gift from three siblings: Chris Quillen ’98 and his wife Jennifer, Hunter Quillen Gresham, and Matt Quillen ’06 and his wife Kelsey.

The family’s Hokie connections run deep, beginning in the 1930s when the Quillen siblings’ paternal grandfather, Hicklen B. “Jack” Quillen Jr. ’40, attended Virginia Tech. The siblings’ parents, Michael J. Quillen ’70 and Sherwood P. Quillen ’71, shared their love for the university with their children.

The three Quillen siblings all have many happy childhood memories of traveling from their hometown of Gate City to Lane Stadium for football games.

The Spirit Plaza will also be used for pep rallies and special events.

Three HokieBird statues will be included in the Quillen Spirit Plaza:

  • The 10-foot, 1-ton bronze HokieBird that stood in Cassell Coliseum since 2006 has taken its new place on the east side of the plaza.
  • The 5-foot “Spirit of Tech” HokieBird, which was part of Squires Student Center for 16 years, will stand in a portico on the west side.
  • A new 5-foot HokieBird statue called “This is Home” will take its position at the entrance to Dietrick Hall.

“Collectively, they represent our family’s love for this institution — its traditions, our milestones and memories, and a respect for those who’ve been here and those yet to come,” said Hunter Quillen Gresham.

The new HokieBird design

The new HokieBird statue is named “This Is Home” and celebrates Hokie traditions. The concept and design were created by Mike, Chris, Hunter and Matt Quillen.

Artist Heather Gearhart brought the idea to life.

“This is Home” will reside at the entrance to Dietrick Dining Center on the Spirit Plaza.

This HokieBird carries a lunch pail, which represents the grit and determination it has come to be known for in association with the football team.

It sports a class ring, a nod to Mike Quillen’s service on the Virginia Tech Ring Committee as a student.

And there is a tattoo on its bicep that is a shout out to Southwest Virginia and Gate City, the Quillens’ hometown.

The “This is Home” HokieBird also highlights the varied logos and taglines used by the university since its founding in 1872. And it contains clues to a variety of Virginia Tech traditions incorporated into the paving stones in the Circle of Traditions around the bronze HokieBird in the Quillen Spirit Plaza.

“Virginia Tech has been a big part of all of our lives,” said Chris Quillen. “We’re all very fortunate and we just want to see VT continue to grow and help how we can.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.