• David Cunningham

Thank You, Virginia Tech: A Dream Come True (And Some Personal News)

Updated: May 15


Photo Credit: Liam Sment. Thank you, friend, for making this announcement special.

I remember sitting in the cafeteria at York High School as a sophomore taking the PSAT. It asked you to write down what you thought you wanted to study in college. That was the first time I’d ever really thought about what I wanted to do in the future.


My parents are two of the smartest people I’ve ever known. My mom, Flynn, graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in biology and math and earned a master’s degree in Blacksburg at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. That’s where she met my dad, Rob, who graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor's and master's degree in materials engineering and earned an MBA at William & Mary.


In high school, I figured I was going to follow in my parents’ footsteps and end up in the STEM field. I wrote down chemistry as my interest on the PSAT because I was taking it at that moment and genuinely thought I wanted to study it for the rest of my life. I passed chemistry with flying colors and loved it so much that I decided to take AP Chemistry as a junior. It was that year when something in my head clicked.


I never thought about pursuing a career in sports until my sophomore English teacher, Dr. Jaime Miller, told me I was a strong writer and convinced me to take her newspaper class as a junior. I did, and while I didn’t enjoy AP chemistry, I found a love for sportswriting. As the Sports Editor of The Talon as a junior and the Editor-in-Chief as a senior, I finally discovered that sportswriting was my passion, and I was bought in for life.


***


I remember the day my dad sent me an article about Bill Roth returning to Virginia Tech to create a Sports Media & Analytics major. I couldn’t believe it. Bill was my idol, someone I imitated when I did play-by-play of basketball in my driveway. Growing up a Hokie, I was already set on going to Virginia Tech for college. Bill returning to Blacksburg to teach just sealed the deal.


One of the first people I ever met at Virginia Tech was Evan Hughes. We met on Twitter and grabbed Moe’s the first week of class, and there was an instant connection. I couldn’t believe it – I had found someone with the same level of passion about sportswriting and broadcasting as me.


Evan told me to contact Andrew Allegretta, the head of Virginia Tech’s IMG student broadcast internship, and Tim Thomas, the owner and founder of The Tech Lunch Pail. Through IMG, I met Brady Hess, who gave me an opportunity with WUVT 90.7 FM Blacksburg, Virginia Tech’s student radio station. I got involved with all three organizations, which laid the groundwork for four great years in Blacksburg.


***


January 29, 2019, will go down as one of the greatest days in the history of the Sports Media & Analytics program at Virginia Tech. It’s the day 3304 Sports was created, and it was the start of something great.


Over the past two years, 3304 Sports has evolved into a dynamic, well-oiled machine in so many different areas. One of my proudest accomplishments during my time in Blacksburg is the creation of the writing side of 3304.


I remember when I discussed the idea with Bill and Evan in December of 2019. They were on board immediately, and the website was created in January. Since the site’s inception, 426 articles have been published. Before handing the keys over to Jackson Didlake and Chris Hirons in April, I personally edited around 400 of those stories. Having a hand in 3304 Sports and seeing so many writers improve and grow has been one of the greatest treats over the past two years, and though insanely time consuming, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


***


It’s mind-blowing that my four years at Virginia Tech are already over. It feels like yesterday I moved into Pritchard Hall with Erik Platt, one of my best friends.


The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received in my 21 years came from David Teel, who I’m honored to call a friend and a colleague. When interviewing him my sophomore year, he told me to “be as versatile as [I] can be. Be comfortable in other areas. … Be as well-rounded as [I] can.” I’ve really taken that to heart and I made it a goal to be involved in as many things as possible in my time at Virginia Tech.


I was involved with IMG, The Tech Lunch Pail, WUVT, NSMA and intramurals as a freshman. As a sophomore, 3304 Sports was created and I got involved with HokieVision and the ACC Network, which gave me some really cool experiences. I worked many games for ESPN and Regional Sports Networks, often doing stats, which gave me front row seats to so many cool events. Though I didn’t get a normal last three semesters due to COVID-19, I had the opportunity to cover men’s basketball for The Key Play, which was a fantastic experience.


I consider myself really lucky. As I sit here writing this a day before graduation, I’ve amassed over 4,500 followers on Twitter, many who I consider friends or colleagues. I never set out to accomplish that, though. When I started covering Virginia Tech, I was doing because I enjoyed it. I didn’t care if my tweets got one like or 100. I didn’t think about being recognized at restaurants or bars or parties in Blacksburg (though it always ends up being a funny story when it happens). I was just doing my thing.


I’m grateful for everyone who interacted with me, whether in person or on Twitter, and to everyone who supported me, whether by reading one of my stories or liking one of my tweets. I’m thankful to all of the people who gave me opportunities and believed in me along the way. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without you.


***


As for what’s next…


I’m excited to announce that I’ll be sticking around Blacksburg. I’ve accepted a full-time job to join Will Stewart, Chris Coleman and TechSideline as the organization’s new managing editor.


I’m stoked for this opportunity. I’ve practically been reading TechSideline since I came out of the womb in 1999. I’ll be managing all written content on the site, minus a few paywalled articles from Will and Chris, so I’ll be in my element. I’m so excited, and very grateful, to have a great chance to succeed with an organization that believes in me right out of school.


If you told 8-year-old David that he’d be covering Virginia Tech full-time out of college, he’d probably faint. It’s a dream job to get paid to talk about Virginia Tech around the clock.


In all seriousness, I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue to travel to intriguing road venues, cover games in Cassell Coliseum and Lane Stadium and tell the stories of current and former student-athletes, coaches and staff. I guarantee you’ll find me in the press box in the near future, especially as our world gets back to normal.


I hope you’ll follow me along on the next step of my journey. TechSideline, the premier media outlet covering Virginia Tech athletics, has been around since 1996 and has an extensive reach. I only plan to increase that.


For those interested, some links:

- To learn more about TechSideline: https://virginiatech.sportswar.com/about/

- To subscribe to TechSideline (Students: There’s a special rate just for you): https://virginiatech.sportswar.com/subscribe-renew/

- Follow TechSideline on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

- To follow and keep up with me: https://twitter.com/therealdcunna


***


Thank You


If you’ve made it this far, thank you. There are so many people I need to thank.


First, my family. Mom, Dad, Sarah, Robert, Minnie, Grandma, Grandpa and my extended family: Thanks for always supporting my dreams. I appreciate you setting me up to succeed in life, and for always caring about me. I love you all so much. Thanks for shaping me into the person I am today. I know it was very difficult at times, especially when I was an adventurous and mischievous kid.


To my hometown friends (Kyle, Emma, Ryan, Chase, Courtney, Nick, Rishit, Dane, CJ and Trevor: We’ve been through it all together. I love you all so much, and I can’t wait to see what each of you all end up doing in the future. Thanks for always supporting me and putting up with my constant tweeting about Virginia Tech.


To the Goats (Evan, Will, Shelton, Damian, Ryan, Erik, Thomas and Drew): We did it. We’re all graduating. I’m so proud of each and every one of you guys and I’m so thankful for our friendships. Thanks for putting up with me. I know it can be tough, especially when I do things like rage in pong. You guys have made college great, even in a pandemic, and I’m so excited to see where your futures take you.


To my other great friends in Blacksburg, from Maneet and David to the rest of Pritch: I’ve loved experiencing college with all of you. You guys have been some of my best friends and I’m so thankful for our friendship. I wish I could’ve spent even more time with so many of you all, but I guess you’ll just have to come back and visit.


To HokieVision (Especially Eric, Amanda, Gibby, Trevor, Stank and Taylor): I can’t thank you all enough for giving me an opportunity to succeed. I had no idea what I was doing the first time I walked into the control room, but you guys treated me as one of your own. I learned so much throughout my time with you all and I’m so thankful for your constant support. I can’t wait to come back and visit.


To my past opportunities (The Tech Lunch Pail, The Key Play and the Peninsula Pilots): Thanks for believing in me and taking a chance on me. I learned so much and became a better person and a better journalist because of the opportunity. Thank you to everyone who read any of my stories or listened to any of my broadcasts at those stops.


To all of the talented people I shared a press row with, no matter the sport: Thank you for looking at me as a journalist and not a student. It was an honor to learn from so many of you, I appreciate your kindness, and I can’t wait to see you in a press box soon.


To 3304 Sports: There’s so much I have to say, but I’m honestly just thankful for the culture that’s been created. Evan and I wanted to create something special, and we did that. To everyone I worked with, from the leadership team to the broadcasters and writers, thank you for your dedication and your commitment to our program. Jackson and Chris, I can’t wait to see what new heights you take the writing side to. I’m proud to be a 3304 alum, and I’m appreciative of everyone who came through the program before me that made everything I did during my time here possible. Bill, Evan and Andrew Allegretta: Thank you for including me in helping build this program. I love each and every one of you, and I'm so proud of what we've accomplished in four years.


To my student journalism friends (Especially a few: Alec, Alex, Aria, Christina, Drew, Ella, Emily, Hailey, Jake, Josh, Kennedi, Kyle and McClain): You guys are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met and it’s an honor to be able to call you friends. I remember how nervous I was when I hopped on that first happy hour. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I was honestly afraid I wouldn’t fit in. But you all are some of the kindest people I know, and you never judged me. It’s crazy that we’re competing for the same jobs, yet we’re all best friends and support one another. I can’t say enough about how great you guys are. A special thank you to Christina and Emily for hosting McClain and me in Columbia a few weeks ago. It was so awesome to finally meet you all in person, and I can’t wait until I can visit you all again. Thanks for always being kind to me.


To Ryan and Erik: Long live 832. It’s been a pleasure to live with you two for the last three years (and four with Erik). I’m so lucky to call you guys my best friends. I’m going to miss the inside jokes and the craziness of a regular day in 832 when we’re all driving each other crazy. Thanks for putting up with me. I love you both.


3,570 views1 comment