The Virginia Tech football practice fields, located between Lane Stadium and Cassell Coliseum, are being renamed the Steve Johnson Practice Fields in recognition of the accomplishments and philanthropy of alumnus Steve Johnson of Bristol, Va.
A standout tight end for the Hokies in the mid- and late 1980s, Johnson earned a bachelor's of secondary education from Virginia Tech in 1988. Following his college career, Johnson played for the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, and he currently serves as president and owner of Bristol, Va.-based Johnson Commercial Development, one of the largest commercial developers in the southeastern United States. Johnson Commercial Development is currently developing one of the largest commercial projects in the country, the Pinnacle, a 1 million-square-foot upscale retail development under construction in Bristol, Tenn.
"It will be an honor for our team to work on the Steve Johnson Practice Fields," Head Coach Frank Beamer said. "For former players to give back to the program is very appreciated, and to see former players have success in their lives is gratifying. This gift is special for a lot of different reasons."
Johnson is a generous supporter of the to-be-developed Virginia Tech indoor practice facility, having made a $1 million pledge toward construction. He previously contributed to the university to support construction of the Merryman Athletic Facility, which includes a room for speed and agility training that also bears his name. Johnson is a member of the Ut Prosim Society, a select group of Virginia Tech's most generous supporters.
"It is a pleasure to have the Virginia Tech football practice fields named for Steve Johnson, who was one of our all-time greats as a tight end," Athletic Director Jim Weaver said. "The Virginia Tech athletics department is deeply appreciative of this generous gift to the football program."
According to Johnson, the experience of playing football at the collegiate and professional levels helped prepare him to succeed in business.
"Athletics instill work ethic, dedication, drive, passion and persistence," Johnson said. "Those are qualities that contribute to being productive, whether the ball is snapped and you have to execute a play or you are at your desk and you have to execute in business. I have a deep sense of gratitude toward Virginia Tech. My pledge of support for the indoor practice facility was the right thing for me to do, and I'm glad I was able to do it."
Fundraising for the indoor practice facility is ongoing, with the project's expected cost dependent upon final site selection.