“We are Marshall.” This is more than just a school motto. It extends beyond a mere battle cry. “We Are Marshall” is the spirit and unity of this university. These three words forged a strong bond during the aftermath of the plane crash that took the lives of the 1970 Marshall football team. From this tragic event, the Thundering Herd have rebuilt a program that could have easily vanished, and moreover, it rebuilt the hearts and minds of the Marshall faithful. It’s a story that has inspired the entire athletic world. Walking around campus, evidence of this fateful moment appears in the form of tributes honoring those Sons of Marshall that were lost. It’s a devastating, but significant component of Marshall’s history, and these tributes urge fans to never forget.
“We Are Marshall!” The sounds of this chant can be heard from miles around as folks fill the small town of Huntington to cheer on their Herd. Huntington – the campus and town exude charm and gameday mixes in plenty of fervor. Pullman Square is a must see. With homegrown shops and restaurants, this is a Huntington highlight. Campus isn’t far away from Pullman Square and deserves a slow stroll through. Perfectly collegiate and quaint, it’s open green quads and red brick facades provide additional allure to these parts. Approaching the stadium on the campus’s west side, plenty of tailgating around Joan C. Edwards Stadium has everyone donning green and stampeding with pride. The team ignites the fan base the moment they arrive for the Thunder Walk a couple hours prior to kickoff. “Go Get ‘Em Herd!” is yelped from the crowd as cheers flood the entrance gates. The band follows soon after, blasting “Sons of Marshall” with pride and anticipation as they march into “The Joan.” These are the sights and sounds of gameday as the small town feel suddenly begins to swell into something colossal.
WE ARE! MARSHALL! Each side of the stadium hollers this back and forth reverberating the surrounding Allegheny Plateau. Third downs for the defense result in more rumbling as fans stomp their feet to resemble an intimidating stampede. Touchdowns are followed by the Thunderclap, where fans raise their arms and enthusiastically clap out each point acquired. Needless to say, these folks are active and into their team. I was also happy to see that I could add Marshall as one of the few stadiums that successfully execute a fast and slow motion wave. The action certainly exceeds the price of admission.
Simply stated, this is a great venue to take in a game. But, a must-stop before leaving Huntington is the Marshall University Memorial Fountain. Probably the most moving tribute on campus to the memory of the 1970 squad, it’s quiet and reflective – the complete antithesis to a capacity crowd at The Joan. The fountain is the heartbeat of Marshall. It reminds fans that they cheer for more than just a victory, but also a sense of strength and pride that only Marshall fans can comprehend. It’s what adds true meaning to the words, “We Are Marshall.”