College Station, Texas. Home to the newest member of the SEC West, The Texas A&M Aggies. On game day in College Station thousands of fans decked out in maroon and white will fill Kyle Field to capacity. Here is what I found when I made a visit to Aggieland for their September 29th match up against Arkansas.
When arriving in College Station, make sure you are in town the night before the game. All fans are invited to take part in one of the coolest traditions I have seen. At around 10:30 pm on Friday evening before the game, Kyle Field will open to the public. You don’t have to be an A&M fan or even have a ticket to the game the next day, all you have to do is show up. Over the next hour and a half, one side of the stadium will begin to fill up. Here is what it looked like around 11:30 pm.
At midnight, the bottom two decks of the stadium are now filled and the MIDNIGHT YELL begins!
The Midnight yell is a combination pep rally/practice for the next days game. Lead by the Yell Leaders, fans will spend the next half hour practicing the “pass backs” that signal certain cheers. Yell leaders will tell stories and jokes about the opposing team, and show show hand signals that will be passed back and 25,000 or so fans will break into a choreographed cheer.
Any college football fan owes it to themselves to experience The Midnight Yell. To see the bottom 2 decks of the stadium filled at midnight the night before the game is something unique. The passion and tradition that I saw during the Yell practice, was only a taste of what I would see in a few short hours.
This is what my phone looked like on game day. This is what it looked like outside.
When tailgating, there are two elements that you can’t control; the weather and the kickoff time. Unfortunately, my trip to College Station was not the ideal situation for either. An 11:20 am kickoff time and a monsoon are not the ideal environments for tailgating. It would be easy to throw in the towel and say that you weren’t going to show up and support your team. Texas A&M didn’t throw in the towel. Despite the weather and early kickoff, they were there by the thousands to support their Aggies.
Tailgating in Aggieland happens all over campus in various parking lots. With the early kickoff, I spent most of my time in the lots closest to the stadium. If you are looking to just park and walk around there are several decks on campus where you can park. I parked in the West Campus Deck located between the basketball arena and Kyle Field. Despite the weather, there were still plenty of fans who brought out their big cookers for the tailgate.
When playing the Arkansas Razorbacks, “eating your competition” is an easy thing to do.
Just serve a menu that revolves around pork.
Every Texas A&M fan will be decked out in maroon and white on game day.
For this game day, a poncho was the most common article of clothing. All Texas A&M alumni are easy to spot. On their hands, they wear their Aggie Ring.
Outside The Association of Former Students there is a statue version of this cherished item.
If you are interested in learning more about the ring and other important aspects of A&M history, take a trip inside the Association. Upstairs there are exhibits and displays that will answer all of your questions.
Outside the Association of Former Students you will also find Bus 12.
I have met many tailgating groups throughout my travels, and the Lane Family of Bus 12 are right up there with the nicest and most helpful fans that I have ever come across. Their amazing tailgating bus is known as Bus 12. Many fans take years to turn an old school bus into a something like what you see here, but the Lanes did it all over the course of one summer. You can see more about their bus and tailgating group on their website. Thank you again to Roger, Brent, Katy, Keith, Ellen, and Jesus for answering all of my questions and for showing me around.
From Gig’em to the 12th man, to Reveille the Collie, A&M game days are filled with tradition and significance. There are hundreds of traditions that Aggie fans recognize to honor their rich history of military service, education, and football. Game day is a chance for all Aggies to get together to celebrate all of these things. The most noticeable tradition on campus are the Corps of Cadets. The purpose of the Corps is
“The Corps of Cadets develops well-educated leaders of character who are academically successful, embody the values of Honor, Integrity, Discipline and Selfless Service, and are fully prepared for the global challenges of leading in the 21st Century.”
Made up of over 2.200 students, it is the oldest student organization on campus. Many of the members move onto serve in all branches of the military after graduation. Yell Leaders and members of the marching band are all part of the Corps of Cadets. On game day, players will cheer as the Aggie football team walks into the stadium, but they aren’t the only ones. About an hour and a half before kickoff, the Band and Corps of cadets will assemble in the Quad. A canon will fire about 90 minutes prior to kickoff and the Corps of Cadets will “Step off the Quad” and make their way into the stadium. Fans by the thousands will line their walk and cheer them on as the pass by. Here is a collection of images depicting the scene as the Corps make their way to Kyle Field.
For many, seeing the Corps march is a hi-light of game day, and something that they aspire to be in the future.
Thank you again to everyone I met in College Station. I look forward to returning to Texas A&M in the future!