Texas A&M University is well known as a school that is either loved or loathed by people everywhere. The Texas A&M traditions play a big part in these sentiments, as students think of these traditions as a bond between them well after graduation. Others look at these traditions as silly college stunts. I am in the former group, having graduated from Texas A&M what seems like forever ago. I fell in love with the place the first time I stepped on campus. Here are my top Texas A&M traditions.
The 12th Man
Most people think that the 12th Man tradition pertains only to football. In one aspect, they are correct. The 12th Man tradition's roots stem from 1922 when the football team was down to just 11 players due to injury. A former player, E. King Gill was called down from the stands to don a uniform and stand ready in case another player was injured. Gill never got into the game, but his willingness to go in if needed symbolized the Aggie readiness to support a fellow Aggie if needed. Gill's willingness to play also is why students stand throughout an entire football game. It is their way to show that they are willing to help if needed.
But beyond the football field, the 12th Man continues to symbolize that Aggies will help out another Aggie in any way possible.
Aggie Muster and Silver Taps
The Texas A&M traditions of Aggie Muster and Silver Taps are ways to remember Aggies that have recently died. April 21 of each year is Aggie Muster. Aggies all over are encouraged to gather together to remember their days in College Station. The Muster ceremony in College Station also has a "roll call for the absent" in which the names of Aggies that have died in the past year are read aloud. Attendees that knew the Aggie will call out "Here" as a way of showing that this person's spirit will always be with us.
Silver Taps is a way to remember current students that have passed away. Held the first Tuesday night of each month, students gather at the Academic Plaza. At 10:15 all lights on campus are turned off and bells chime. At 10:30 there is a 3 volley salute and buglers play Silver Taps, a version of Taps. Silver Taps is played to the North, West, and South, but never to the East to symbolize that the sun will never rise on that Aggie again. After the buglers, the crowd disperses.
The Aggie Ring
The Aggie Ring is the Texas A&M tradition that all students look forward to for the length of their studies. Most schools offer rings to their graduates, but the Aggie Ring is special to all Aggies in a different way. Because of the bond that Aggies have to one another and the pride that we have in our school, the Aggie Ring is a way to publicly show that support and pride. It is also a way to strike up a conversation with another Aggie. The Aggie Network is special, and the ring helps facilitate the network.
Midnight Yell Practice
Midnight Yell Practice is held at midnight the night before a football game. For home games, Yell Practice is held at Kyle Field. For road games, a Yell Practice is held at a site in the road city. Yell Practice is a rally in which all that attend go through a series of "yells," or cheers. These yells are performed at games by all Aggie students, and the Yell Practice is a way to get together, have some fun, and get ready for the game the following day.
Sawing Varsity's Horns Off
The last verse of the Aggie fight song, The Aggie War Hymn, is a verse dedicated to beating the University of Texas Longhorns. At the end of the verse, Aggies put their arms around each other and sway back and forth while singing about "sawing varsity's horns off." The entire stadium sways, including the alumni, and creates a very neat visual. Newcomers in the press box are warned ahead of time that the press box will sway while varsity's horns are being sawed off. If you have watched a Texas A&M football game you no doubt have seen this tradition played out.
Texas A&M traditions are a big part of what makes the university such a special and unique place. The traditions foster a family feeling among students and helps form a bond that lasts well after graduation. While many of these traditions began on the field, they have meaning in everyday life as well. There are a ton of other traditions that I did not touch on, but are just as unique and important.