The school week was over. Students were out and about in Northgate getting a head start on weekend shenanigans. They looked down at their watches and saw midnight was approaching. Time to head out.
There was chatter among scattered groups of friends as Patrick (Pinak) and I walked through the Texas A&M campus. Otherwise, there was a calm hush. We had no idea where we were going. I debated using my elite astrology training to guide us. Following the crowd heading towards the lit up, behemoth football stadium turned out to be easier.
We picked seats about 10 rows up from the field. We had no idea what we were about to witness.
What We Learned at Texas A&M’s Midnight Yell
The Pre-Show is Exhausting
We’ve written several articles on College Station‘s cathedral, but being there in person is a different experience. Seats extended as far as the eye could see while the field exuded power. It was a sleeping giant.
Around 11:40 p.m., two guys with white undershirts and overalls made their way to the center of the field. I later learned these were the junior yell leaders.
They shook hands and walked opposite directions. They repeatedly went back and forth from the logo to their respective goal line in perfect synchronization, shaking hands each time they returned to midfield. I have never seen anyone walk with as much purpose. I was witnessing a neighborhood mom bolting for the last pumpkin pie at the grocery store on Thanksgiving. The only difference is these guys were smiling the entire time.
It kept going. And going. And going. Their path started to become visible on the field. If you’re looking to get your steps in, it’s time to consider becoming a junior yell leader.
At midnight, the senior yell leaders made their way onto the field. They knelt, with the head yell leader in the middle, while the junior yell leaders did fist pushups to the tune of the band. Again, it felt like the pushups would never end. I was exhausted just from watching.
Know Your Chants & Pay Attention
Now, Patrick is a Florida fan and I’m a Nebraska fan. That night, we were honorary Texas A&M fans because if we didn’t cheer, we would’ve stood out like sore thumbs and we wanted to avoid being fodder for a future yell leader story at all costs.
So, we took part in the cheers. We learned that hissing is an integral part of being an Aggie fan. We had our eardrums shook by the loudest cannon this side of the Mississippi. We “humped it” and checked saying “Beat the hell out of Auburn” off our bucket list.
We discovered all it takes to find love in College Station is holding up your phone flashlight when the lights dim during the yell. It’s tradition to kiss your date at this time, and if you don’t have one you flick your lighter or flash your phone. Why? Because “the flames make it easier for two dateless people to find each other.”
Bring a Date…Or a Lighter
I knew Texas A&M had rich tradition, and yet, I was surprised by how interactive everything was. There wasn’t a second of downtime. The people welcomed us with open arms, and even though our chants and hand signals were flawless, they taught us to put your left foot in the middle of the person on your left’s stance.
A unique identity is what makes college football great. Passionate fans can go on and on about the deep rooted traditions of their program. After experiencing the midnight yell practice, I can confidently say there is no where else in the country like Texas A&M.