Electric. Majestic. Powerful. Tradition.
These are words that describe the current atmosphere here in East Tennessee. Today is a day we have been waiting exactly 9 months for. Today we will finally here those 5 words that will make every Tennessean Shiver with delight…..
If you don’t live in the South you may not understand why today is so special. Why every person within a 100 mile radius of Knoxville, TN is decked out in orange today with Rocky Top playing in the background.
Yes, we love our football, but it truly runs deeper then a bunch of guys out there throwing the pigskin. Tonight is about Hope, Sportsmanship, Honor, and Tradition.
Allow me to give some insight into game day through the eyes of a VFL (Vol For Life)
The morning will begin with the arrival of the VOL Navy. Situated on the banks of the Tennessee River, Neyland Stadium is one of only two football stadiums accessible by water. Hours before the game is to begin, the proud Vol Navy will sail their tricked out boats 200 strong up the river to the Stadium. This is definitely a fun and unique way to tailgate!
A couple hours before kick off it is time for one of the most time honored and important traditions…. the Vol Walk. The players dressed in their finest, will make their way down from campus to the stadium. While this may seem like a simple walk, it is important. Along the short stretch will be thousands of fans….cheering, shouting, and anxiously awaiting the chance to shake the hands of their favorite players and coaches. The team enters the stadium feeling pride and greatly encouraged for what lies ahead.
As the time draws close to kick off, the team will make its way to the tunnel to enter the field, but before they do, two important things will happen. Frist they will repeat General Neyland’s Game Maxims:
Then then right before they make the run onto the field, they make one final vow… to give their all.
Now if you want to see 102,000 Tennesseans get a little choked up, then you will need to experience what happens next.
The Pride of The Southland band will take the field and form the famous power T.
Then… for a just a moment…you can almost hear a pin drop. There is a hush through out the stadium as the crown anticipates what is fixing to happen. In one huge movement the T open up, Rocky Top plays and the team rushes out on the field.
So here it is…. game day. Yes, I am wearing my orange. Yes, I will stay up past my bedtime to listen to the game….(I don’t have cable, so I get to do it the old fashioned way), and yes I will schedule all my activities around the next several Saturdays.
While I love the game, it is not the only reason I am such a dedicated fan. For me, it is about the passion, the sportsmanship, the loyalty, the tradition, and the community. It warms my heart that everywhere you go on weekends from September till January, you see everyone sporting their orange shirts, hats, coats, leggings, overalls, gloves, and flags. I love the fact that when someone comes in wearing an Alabama t-shirt to fill out a job application I can tell him we don’t hire his kind, and he totally laughs at me. And I get chills each time I hear Rocky Top play and everyone joins in and throws in the “WOO” at just the right time.
So VOL nation…. today is our day. Get out the Power T can cozies, checkerboard overalls, your VOL car flags, your VFL buttons, and your Brick By Brick t-shirts.