HOME OF THE 12TH MAN
By Amilcar Flores '17 | Vol. 4 Issue 1
Texas A&M is built on a foundation of traditions. From Midnight Yell to Muster, we are a school that values the past, present and future. Symbolically, there is a single phrase that describes the student body: The 12th Man. What is the 12th Man? For a straightforward question, the answer could not be more complex. The complexity of the answer only further adds to the richness of how the 12th Man came to be, how it has evolved and why today it extends well beyond the gridiron.
To find the origin, we must travel back to 1922. The underdog Aggie football team was facing off against powerhouse Centre College. As the hard fought game dragged on, the Aggies’ reserves were depleted due to injuries. Worried he might not have enough players to finish the game, A&M Head Coach Dana X. Bible saw E. King Gill, a student and squad player, up in the stands and called him down to the field. Without a second thought, Gill suited up, standing ready on the sidelines. When the game concluded, the Aggies had won and Gill was the only player left standing on the sideline. Though he did not participate in the game, Gill’s willingness to aid the team represented a link between the team and the fans. That day Gill was the 12th Man of the football team, ready to help if needed. For generations since then, the entire student body has embraced that spirit of serving by standing for the entire game. “I just don’t think you can have any finer tradition than the fact that your people up in the stands are ready any time they’re called upon,” said Coach Bible.
Today, that spirit extends well beyond supporting Aggie athletics. The student body’s willingness to serve is witnessed all over campus, around the Bryan/College Station community and beyond. A fine example is The Big Event, the nation’s largest student-run community service project. One day each spring over 20,000 Aggies disperse all over Bryan/College Station volunteering their time and effort performing any number of community service projects from pulling weeds to painting houses to helping run an elementary school festival, as a way to say thank you to the local community. Another exceptionally important tradition that exemplifies the spirit is Silver Taps. During this event, the student body gathers to remember fellow Aggies who have passed away while enrolled at Texas A&M. We stand together in silence to support the families of the fallen and lend them the valor and heart of the 12th Man.
The true meaning is best expressed through the words of Aggies. Lauren Fordyce ’17, a senior English major, says, “The 12th Man is the student body as a family. There is no other university that has this amazing tradition.” Defining the 12th Man as family is a common theme. Andy Zalot ’17, a senior English major confirms, “The students are all there for each other, the community gathers around the university and that is how our identity is built.” Courtney Holloway ’18, who is a junior Allied Health major and in her first semester, continues along the same lines, stating, “The 12th Man is a family. No other word fits or better describes us. From what I have seen in my short time, it’s who we are.”
For myself, I couldn’t agree more. The 12th Man equals family. Texas A&M welcomed me with open arms and gave me a chance when no other school would. My time here has seen me rock side to side with fellow Aggies in Kyle Field and stand next to hundreds of Aggies in remembrance during Silver Taps. In the end, the 12th Man is all of these. It is bigger than one individual. It is a family who assists those who need us. Most important, those Aggies, including myself, who find their tenure as a student here drawing to a close, know that, although we will soon leave for different parts of the country and even the world, we will forever be part of the 12th Man, ready to help should we be called upon. We are the Aggies. The Aggies are We.