The word ‘tradition’ is one that causes people to reflect on their own experiences. Webster Dictionary gives tradition the simple definition of a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time.
“Tradition means continuing the values and legacies passed down to me by family members and other MU students that walked this campus before me,” said freshman tiger fan Natalie Allen.
“My grandpa went here and he always told me about all the things he did and enjoyed, and then me coming here and experiencing the same things defines my idea of Mizzou traditions,” said senior MU student McCall Lapen.
Both of these collegians broke into smiles when they explained what tradition meant to them. It was as if thinking of traditions sparked memories that warmed their hearts. This is true for many Mizzou alumni and students, and much of that tradition focuses on Mizzou football at Homecoming.
I grew up knowing that Mizzou would be my home once I graduated from high school. I would get so excited when my older sisters would come home from Columbia and tell me about all their adventures and show me pictures. I was more than ready to be at Mizzou and to start making my own memories. I even got started on completing the seven most famous traditions to do before you graduate, before I was even in high school.
The University of Missouri claims to have founded the first homecoming in 1911, when former athletic director Chester Brewer called for alumni to “come home” for the annual football game against our biggest revivals, the KU Jayhawks. Mizzou’s Homecoming today has grown into one of the largest student-run celebrations of its kind. There is a steering committee, a Homecoming theme, floats, house decorations in Greek Town, a Homecoming breakfast, a parade with a Grand Marshal, and a Homecoming King and Queen. These customs have evolved over the years and become the things that make up Homecoming traditions here at Mizzou. Homecoming has even been voted by MU students and alumni as one of their favorite traditions at Mizzou.
Homecoming is not the only football tradition that Mizzou has to offer. Thousands of fans come to Faurot Field to tailgate, sing the Alma Mater and The Tiger Fight Song, see the Mizzou helmet car, congregate on the Tiger Walk Bridge, and place their arms around one another while they sway left and right and sing The Missouri Waltz. Students participate in other traditions at football games that have been around for generations, like being a part of the tiger’s lair, kissing the “50,” and painting the “M.”
On Saturday, Sept. 10, Mizzou kicked off its home opener beginning a new year of teaching the freshman class its great traditions, as the Tigers played Eastern Michigan. It was the perfect day, with 75 degree weather, for students and fans to get dressed up in their Mizzou attire and take on tailgating. Then as the day went on, it was time to enter Faurot Field to not only watch the game, but enjoy all the tiger traditions.
As I walked into the stadium for the first time as a student, the excitement engulfed me. I couldn’t believe I was really in the student section with my fellow peers. As the game progressed I felt proud to say, “I am a Missouri Tiger and these traditions are now mine!” New traditions will evolve, but the old traditions at Mizzou are dear to students, fans and alumni and they continue to warm our hearts and make us smile.