The Spirit of Aggieland
by Cindi Sutter, Founder of The Spirited Table®
I attended the University of Texas in Austin as a bright eyed, very naive, freshmen. I decided it would be great fun to meet someone new and take pot-luck on a college dorm mate. That was the worst idea I’d ever had. She stole my clothes and tried to forge thousands of dollars of checks on my account, until we figured out a persons’ address book unlocked the hidden secret to their signature, and she figured out I only had about $300 in my account.
Bottom line, she went to jail and I went to Texas A&M for a fresh start; which was one of the best ideas I ever had. Besides, one of my best friends from high school wanted to make a move to Aggieland so we headed a bit north and east and so began my life as an Aggie.
There were roughly 5,000 females and 12,000 males when I transferred to Aggieland; in the Fall of 2015 there were roughly 64,000 students. So last October I visited College Station and took some alone time to walk around and assess this place I couldn’t imagine contained my memories as well as 40,000 more students. Remember, I can’t really pop in from Minneapolis to College Station very often, so I needed to cover a lot of memorable territory in a few hours.
Dreaming big about imaginary points unknown has always been a special pass time of mine… But this particular afternoon while strolling around this vibrant but unusual campus, I unwrapped special delivery surprise packages of honor, sneakiness (on my part), fun, more females than I’d ever seen on campus, a love of country, tailgating, giving back, duty, and the big winner, TRADITIONS!
Like a giant football hitting me between the eyes, I realized my journey to knowledge had always been paved with traditions that began at my birth, nurtured by my family, tweaked by my college experiences, embraced by some of my best friends and sorta understood by my Yankee husband. But he really doesn’t understand my allegiance to a school that also gave me a Masters Class in football while still leaving a game madder than a hornet; all the while realizing that no matter what, we never leave early, we don’t sit we stand, we don’t cheer we yell and we certainly never cry.
We are the original 12th man, dating back to January 2, 1922 and we are always ready to jump into the game of football and life. (Seattle pretends they came up with the 12th man...get creative...get your own tradition instead of one that began and has lived and breathed for about 83 years ahead of you.)
I found it almost impossible to imagine a school that was all male, all military not long before I made the trek from Austin to College Station; but now stands up for women in the core and in the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. (As a side note, if anybody is reading this who has sway with the networks that cover football, give the country a treat, let them at least watch a bit of the band and the perfection with which they maneuver a tuba around a tight military formation). Sorry, I digressed.
In All-American Aggieland the student body stands for the entirety of a football game, after having been up late the night before for midnight yell practice; a long-held tradition where the football team and student body become one.
During my student tenure the Greek system popped on campus and some hard core cadets didn’t exactly know what to do; but they ultimately realized it’s all about finding the tradition that’s best for you. Like the Senior core-men who wear the brightest spit shined boots around as a tip of the hat to their final year as a student.
So on this particular afternoon I stumbled upon traditions, skills, honor and country being taught and embraced.
Stay tuned for my next article highlighting my love affair with the Epsilon Rho class of Kappa Kappa Gamma. I was honored to be amongst the Charter pledge class on campus and we're soon celebrating a big anniversary!
But make no mistake, we were NEVER alumni, we are Former Students. I always believed some child-like part of we Aggies always wants to be a life-long student. A line in one of our school songs embodies it the best. For we’re the Aggies, the Aggies are we, true to each other as Aggies should be, we’ve got to fight boys, we’ve got to fight, we’ve got to fight for maroon and white. After they boosted all the rest, they will come and join the best, for the we’re the Aggies the Aggies are we, we’re from Texas AMC. And so I am…
These adventures left me divinely dreaming about my extraordinary memories of Aggieland where lifestyle celebrations of every sort beckon me to remember friends from the past and present.
You never actually own your favorite team, you’re usually just rooting for them, yelling at them, loving them, momentarily not loving them, or merely taking care of their legacy for the next generation.
The view from the top of the stadium blew me away. My Aggieland experience had included only 2 decks for Kyle field, now this place includes so many nooks and crannies they never noticed me walk into the stadium, hop on the elevator and make my way to a perfect view, while being the only fan in the stadium… pretty cool huh.
The Aggie bonfire on the Wednesday night before we played tu (our name for the University of Texas) was a long-held tradition. This bonfire had been built by students under the guidance and instruction of the same construction company, until one fateful year in 2003; when Aggieland grieved more than I can ever remember. I visited this Memorial to the young lives that were lost too soon and honored their memory the only way I knew how; I waited for…the Spirit of Aggieland to remind me of why like old soldiers, Aggies never die, they just fade away for a bit.
Love on your school in honor of those who came before you and those who'll be there long after you're gone.