Tradition and Texas A&M are inexorably tied. Aside from the cavernous stadium that stretches high into the Lone Star sky, the traditions that have been in place for decades have not been altered – only improved with age.
Nothing epitomizes this more than the Aggie Yell Leaders. At Texas A&M, you won’t find cheerleaders on the sidelines because Aggie fans don’t cheer – they yell. So, Yell Leaders take over. They are a team of upperclassmen elected by the student body. Dressed in all white, they lead the crowd in a variety of incredibly choreographed and orchestrated yells. This unique tradition puts Aggie fans on a higher level when it comes to creating an unbeatable atmosphere.
Texas A&M is known as the home of the 12th man – a name that originated from the spirit and loyalty of one Aggie. In 1922, E. King Gill was a squad player for Texas A&M and assisting reporters in the press box during a home game. The team was rapidly losing players to injury, and A&M’s coach signaled for Gill to come out of the stands and suit up just in case. The Aggies were victorious that day, and while Gill never actually played, his willingness to do so inspired generations after him to stand together in solidarity during every home game as a symbol of the 12th man – a symbol of Aggie spirit and dedication. A statue of Gill rests outside Texas A&M’s stadium, and is known as the 12th Man Statue – a representation of the loyalty of Aggie fans and their willingness to support their team.
To ensure that the crowd is ready to create one of the best atmospheres in sports, yell leaders guide thousands of Aggie fans the night before every home game for midnight yell practice! Even the kids get their own yell practice on gameday. It’s a pep rally on speed and no one does anything quite like this.
Revellie has been the Aggie mascot since 1931. This purebred collie is beloved here at Texas A&M and is known as the First Lady of Aggieland. The mascots of the past are honored at the Revellie Memorial outside the stadium. (They are buried with their head and paws pointed toward their own miniature scoreboard so that in death “they can always watch the Aggies outscore their opponent on the field” Few mascots are revered like Miss Rev, a beautiful icon of the Texas A&M family.
Another annual tradition unlike any other is the Student Bonfire that takes place before every final home game. A tradition since 1907, this bonfire reaches 35 feet high and takes an entire semester to construct. The on-campus tradition became off-campus as many perished in the 1999 bonfire collapse. But, this tradition continues to burn brightly to honor those who lost their lives in that tragedy and to celebrate how special it is to be part of the Aggie family.
As the Aggie War Hymn plays with pride throughout the weekend, one can only gape at the tradition saturated environment that Texas A&M has built. It truly is a college football experience that all other schools should model themselves after.