Named in honor of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison University nuzzles into the Shenandoah Valley in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Rolling mountains rise in the distance framing this campus founded in 1908. As a newer FBS member, JMU has effortlessly transferred their FCS name brand into the highest level of college football. Lesser known before, James Madison is rapidly being recognized as a notable hotspot.
The Dukes nickname stems from Samuel Page Duke, the university’s president who led from 1919-1949. Duke Dog serves as JMU’s mascot – a gray canine dressed in purple cape and crown. He is a beloved fixture on gamedays adding spirit to an already festive scene. Duke Dog, along with the spirit squad and marching band lead the team in the pregame Dog Walk. Fans gather to welcome the team as the venture toward Bridegeforth Stadium.
The Marching Royal Dukes activate the heart beat of JMU gamedays. This colossal collection of band members is known as “Virginia’s Finest,” but arguably could compete for that title on a national level. Their spirited sound coupled with a wisp of quirkiness rattles the stands to the highest bleacher. Their halftime performance eclipses most of the gridiron’s turf and entertains with every beat. They embody the culture of college football.
Touchdown celebrations vary across the country. Fight songs are common and some places punctuate points with rifles, sirens, or canons. One of the most unique celebrations can be found at James Madison. The instant the Dukes cross the goal line, fans send skyward rolls of purple and gold streamers. The sudden burst of color flutters through the air from all directions. It’s how an explosive cheer looks – the visual sound of a joyous celebration. Add this to one of college football’s greatest traditions.
If James Madison stood where his statue at King Hall lies today, his pride would soar like a streamer. From this perspective, Bridgeforth Stadium lies below as campus rises around it toward a mountainous backdrop. Gamedays infuse campus with a spectacle saturated in vibrant sights and songs. James Madison belongs in the conversation of outstanding college football gameday experiences.