NEW YORK (WFXR) — Virginia Tech continues its preparations for the Pinstripe Bowl, set for Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium against Maryland.

The Hokies arrived in New York City on Christmas Day and the team is balancing work and fun, all under the shadow of COVID-19.

Virginia Tech’s first full day in the Big Apple began early, with the Hokies literally reaching new heights. They got a bird’s eye view of NYC from One World Observatory at the top of the Freedom Tower.

“It’s awesome just being up here with the guys,” tight end James Mitchell said. “It’s really a humbling experience, just getting to look out over the city. It’s been awesome so far.”

Then, a solemn look below at the reflecting pools of the 9/11 Memorial. The players saw the names of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and learned some history from a Port Authority police officer before heading inside to visit the National September 11 Museum.

“If you’re my age or close to my age, you know exactly where you were September 11, 2001,” interim head coach J.C. Price said. “To be able to go to that museum today and shed some light on just how blessed and lucky we are, not to take things for granted. Don’t waste a day.”

After spending some time in Lower Manhattan, it was back to work for Virginia Tech. The Hokies held their first practice in New York at Wein Stadium, the home of the Columbia University Lions.

The preps for the Pinstripe Bowl are being held under the shadow of COVID-19, in a city where cases are surging amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

“We worked hard to get here. We fought to get this bowl game and that sucked for what happened to the Fenway Bowl to happen here and so I think we’re doing a good job on staying masked,” junior defensive lineman TyJuan Garbutt said. “Even when we go to our team events and we’re around other people, other teams, we’re trying to make sure that we go and keep safety and protocol going.”

The Hokies are working towards the 2:15 p.m. kickoff on Wednesday, Dec. 29, balancing the focus between the field and the New York City experience.

“Here at Virginia Tech, we do a good job of that,” Mitchell said. “When it’s time to have fun and enjoy the moment and enjoy the experience and when it’s time to practice and get ready to play a game.”