The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation.
Nowhere is this definition more apt than Texas A&M University, the once all-male all-military college which has developed into a huge University of more than 50,000 students from all over the world. The culture of A&M, known simply as “Aggieland”, is unique in that, even though the school has gone through remarkable growth, the students and alumni have stayed true to those core values where hard-work, loyalty, and patriotism are at its heart.And it is Football Game Day in College Station that those traditions are on full display. The saying goes that “at Texas A&M Football is a religion and Kyle Field is its church.” For the Kyle Field faithful, those “services” each fall are a smorgasbord of Aggie passion that stands as a monument to the greatness of College Football.
And “Standing” is key in Aggieland. Ever since the birth of this singular tradition in 1922 when Aggie Coach Dana X. Bible needed assurance of a full roster for the second half of a football game and the result changed Texas A&M forever. Coach Bible called Aggie student E. King Gill out from the stands to the suit up on the sidelines. As it turned out, the 11 on the field did not need the “12th Man” to play that day but none-the-less, he stood ever ready to help his team. Gill’s statue now adorns a prominent spot near the stadium and his self-less act of support by standing throughout the game has been repeated every game since by thousands upon thousands of Aggie students “ever ready” to support their beloved Aggies.
Famed Coach Jackie Sherrill put the tradition into literal action in the 1980’s when he recruited walk-ons from the Aggie student body to create an all walk-on kickoff team. The tradition continues to this day as a walk-on, wearing the number 12 jersey, participates on the Aggie special teams squad representing the student body.
The 12th Man is tradition at Texas A&M, where the thousands of maroon-clad, towel-waving, yell-all-game student body never sit. It is said that when the Aggie Faithful lock arms and begin swaying to the refrain of the “Aggie War Hymn” fight song, the stadium moves.
And in 2012, as A&M moves into the Southeastern Conference, visitors take note, its “Standing-Room-Only” at Kyle Field - the Home of the 12th Man.