The secret is out – Salem native revealed as one of VT’s Class of 2020 HokieBirds

by Shawn Nowlin
Not many job interviews require a candidate to put on custom, however, that’s exactly what London Hughes had to do when he was applying to be a HokieBird. Becoming Virginia Tech’s mascot never crossed his mind until Hughes attended a home football game with some friends a few years ago.

“I watched HokieBird dance around on the field and realized how cool of a job that must be and knew I had to pursue it,” he said. “I never thought about it until that day. Once the idea crossed my mind, it’s the only thing I could think about for months.”
Last week, during a virtual commencement celebration, a video played showing Hughes and another student wearing graduation gowns with their HokieBird feet.
A Salem native, Hughes went to Glenvar elementary, middle and high school. Running track and cross-country kept him busy after school. His other two favorite sports growing up were basketball and football.
Hughes has always considered himself a part of the Hokie family. His dad attended Virginia Tech and the two regularly attended football and basketball games together. As Hughes puts it, “I’ve been attending Tech games for as long as I can remember.”
When it came time to pick a college to further his education, it was a no-brainer decision. Hughes ended his undergrad career with a major in Biological Sciences, and two minors, Chemistry and Animal and Poultry Sciences.
“I knew that Virginia Tech was going to be the school I wanted to attend. It was the only college I applied to, and I’m so glad that it all worked out,” Hughes said.
He added, “My studies came with challenging course loads that had to be taken seriously. I still made time for a social life. Most of my extra time was spent hanging with friends. Overall, I had a wonderful experience as an undergrad in Blacksburg.”
As a HokieBird, Hughes’ responsibilities were plentiful. He had to be at every home and away football game, attend every men’s and women’s basketball game, including ACC and NCAA Tournament contests and make appearances at certain swimming, soccer and baseball games. Outside of athletics, the HokieBird does various campus events throughout the year, partakes in weddings and anniversaries and even television commercials when asked.
“Perhaps my biggest HokieBird responsibility was not telling anyone my identity. This was hard because you want to tell everyone that you’re the person behind the mask,” he said. “You are the one that was dancing on the basketball court. You’re the one that just ran the football team out of the Lane Stadium tunnel. But you can’t, and that’s just part of the job.”
Come fall, Hughes will be attending the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine School.
“What’s better than four more years in Blacksburg? I love the campus and the school community. I couldn’t imagine vet school anywhere else,” he said. “I’m thankful for all the opportunities I had as HokieBird. The HokieBird is a beloved symbol of the VT community and it was an honor and privilege to be part of this great tradition. I wish the very best to those who follow me in this role.”

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