Our interview with @SweetT4VT, Tiona Bland.

We are delighted here at All Sports Discussion to have former High Tech, @SweetT4VT participate in an interview with @HokieGuru.  Enjoy – she is an outstanding young woman.

Tiona graduated from Virginia Tech in 2010 with her Bachelor of Arts in English as well as a Spanish Minor. During her four years at Tech, she performed with the HighTechs each year. She was an active member of the Varsity squad who also traveled to compete nationally each year. She has been an Arlington resident for two years and looks forward to the exciting adventures her future holds.

When did you attend Virginia Tech?  What made you decide to attend Virginia Tech?

I attended Virginia Tech between the years of 2006 and 2010 (best four years of my life yet!). Growing up I wanted to go to JMU (forgive me) and follow in the footsteps of my sister. I visited the campus my junior year of high school and realized it was not the place for me. Soon after, my friends and I visited Virginia Tech. I immediately fell in love with the campus, the people, and of course, the food. I’ve been wearing orange and maroon ever since!

On a professional basis, what are you doing today?

For the past two years, I have been working in the education field. I work in a Kindergarten class in Arlington, Virginia.

Tell us about the High Techs.  For example, how does one become part of the High Techs?  What is the time commitment to be part of the High Techs?  What does every Virginia Tech fan need to know about the High Techs?  Here’s your chance to generate some free flow prose.  Please be wordy.

To become part of the elite group of dancers, known as the High Techs, one must undergo a rigorous audition process….every year. I have known girls to miss their own prom or beach week, just for the chance to become a part of the team. The auditions consist of various, advanced skills including leaps, turns, and jumps. A routine is also taught that ranges through the styles of jazz, pom, and hip hop. Following this process, judges deliberate and select a team that will work together technically and cohesively to support ALL of the athletic teams around campus. Yes, all.

The High Techs are busy throughout the entire year. We have no off season. Following auditions, which occur the spring before the season, we get right to work. Newbies are sent a dvd at the beginning of summer and expected to learn the material before their return to campus in June for the first team practice. Summer practices are imperative to prepare for camp in August. This camp sets the preface for our year and also gives other teams an impression of who’s who among the dance world. For the past six years, at this camp, we have received a full paid bid to Dance Nationals in April.

Although Nationals is important to the team, our main focus is generating spirit at athletic events. We are responsible for attending appearances, four practices a week, and lifting while maintaining good academic standing as well as an athletic appearance. Exhausting, yet exhilarating. Our team is fortunate in that we are considered a Varsity sport and therefore, letter as such. This is not the case for other dance teams we compete against. Football, basketball, wrestling, volleyball, soccer, hockey, and many more. The High Tech dance team is a mix of some of the hardest working females I know. Under the direction of Rickey Hill, the team continues to grow and adapt as the dance world changes and as the demand for their presence on campus increases.

Who are some of the former Hokies athletes you still stay in contact with from your High Tech days?  Here we are not only talking about your former High Tech teammates, but also those you generated spirit for at the games.

I love traveling, so staying in contact with former Hokie athletes is one of my favorite hobbies. Of course we arrange get togethers in Blacksburg during football season, and throughout the year, as do must alum. I am fortunate enough to live with a former High Tech, also my big sis on the team, Kelly Jamieson. So, our house is location for mini reunions each weekend! Including my teammates, I also keep in touch with many other athletes I befriended during my stay at Virginia Tech. The list could go on for pages!

What are your most memorable experiences at member of the High Techs?

My most memorable experience as a High Tech, which I’m sure is true for many of us, is my first time running out of the tunnel at a Hokie football game. I’m getting chills just writing about it. The crowd is roaring and the stadium is literally shaking. Just in front of the football team, the High Techs, along with the cheerleaders, prepare the crowd for the main event. We jump to Enter Sandman (our anthem) and then suddenly, everything bursts into movement as the players dash through the tunnel and we lead them onto the field. It always takes a few minutes to recover from this excitement. If I could relive one moment at Tech, this would be it.

Another awesome experience was performing at the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl. Although we ultimately lost the game, traveling with the team and performing at halftime was an unforgettable experience.

Was there anything that you took from your away experience as a High Tech that helps you now in your professional career?

All in all, as a member of the High Techs, I learned how to deal with people. I had to see the girls on my dance team 5 days a week at the least. We came from different places with different experiences, but we learned to come together and work as one to support the team. In my adult life I encounter people every day. Because of my experiences as a High Tech, I am fully equipped with problem solving techniques to appease the group at large.

Based on your experiences as a member of the High Techs (and your life beyond), what advice can you give young students out there who are getting for college and want to be part of this elite spirit group?

Go for it! Living life with no regrets means you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone sometimes. You will form bonds on this dance team that will last a lifetime. These girls will push you, challenge you, and most of all, love you. Sacrifices will be made, but no greatness was ever achieved without a little sacrifice. I can’t imagine my college career without the girls that got me through it.

We thank @SweetT4VT for the interview and her time!! GO HOKIES!!!

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