FOR THE YELL OF IT
By Joseph A. Puente '14 | Vol. I Issue I
Every fall during football season over 83,000 Aggies flood Kyle Field with maroon and white. On the field facing the student section in white uniforms with sleeves rolled to their biceps are five Yell Leaders who, each game, run from end zone to end zone leading the student body in “yells.”
The Yell Leaders are the official spirit organization of the university and are the only one of its kind in college sports. Unlike cheerleaders who perform gymnastic stunts and cheers, Yell Leaders perform a series of hand signals known as “pass backs” which are followed by loud, synchronized yells from the student body—also known as the 12th Man.
“There are certainly some fans that think it is comical that we don’t have female cheerleaders, but an overwhelming amount think that it is an awesome tradition that makes our school special and unique,” said Chris Powell, senior Yell Leader and Company D-2 Cadet Major in the Corps of Cadets.
Before the admittance of women and a record enrollment of 53,000 students, Texas A&M was once an all-male military institution. During the football season, women from Texas Women’s University were regularly invited to games by upperclassmen. According to legend, one game the Aggies weren’t doing too well and were getting out-scored. The dates of the Cadets were getting bored, so the upperclassmen ordered the “fish” (freshmen) to find a way to entertain the crowd.
The freshmen’s decision to raid a janitor’s closet and change into the white coveralls they found became revolutionary. After leading the crowd in yells that day, the freshmen received so much attention that it was decided only upperclassmen would have the privilege to lead the crowd in yells.
Made up of three seniors and two juniors, the Yell Leaders are chosen by the students each spring during the student body elections. Although the five selected have been traditionally males in the Corps of Cadets; any student, male or female, Corps member or otherwise, can campaign and run for Yell Leader. However, one should expect an extensive time commitment during their tenure.
“During the summer months we travel all over the state to Aggie Mom’s Clubs, while visiting New Student Conferences and Fish Camps right before the semester starts,” said Powell. “Our fall semester is packed with home and away football games, volleyball, soccer and the beginning of the men’s and women’s basketball season. It can certainly be stressful at times, but it is a great way to give back to the university we all love so much.”
Among the many responsibilities of a Yell Leader, the one that best captures who the Yell Leaders are and what they do is Midnight Yell. On Fridays at midnight before every home football game, thousands of Aggies meet in the stands of Kyle Field and are energized as the Yell Leaders lead the crowd in yells, tell fables of the next day’s opponent and conduct the Aggie War Hymn.
Midnight Yell has recently been noted as one of the best traditions in college football, and if there’s an environment where passion and loyalty for a university is shared, regardless of class year, it’s Midnight Yell.
Powell said being able to connect with other Aggies across the state and country has been one of the greatest things he’s been able to experience as a Yell Leader, and he believes his interactions with others reflect how special and intimate the Aggie Family is.
“Being a Yell Leader has certainly expanded my scope on how special the Aggie family is. As a Yell Leader I have met countless numbers of Aggies across the state, and their love for this university can be seen through the way they treat others that are a part of this Aggie family.”