College Confidential

What it means to be an Aggie

Texas A&M’s 12th Man tradition dates to 1922.
Texas A&M’s 12th Man tradition dates to 1922. AP

Texas A&M embraces many traditions, as well as a language of its own. We speak Aggie.

“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it; and from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it,” the saying goes.

So how do you try to explain what it means to be an Aggie?

I proposed the question to a more recent A&M graduate, Jennifer Woodlee, ’10. As she said, we are a family — a family of hundreds of thousands who tailgate together and band together through thick and thin...and Johnny Football.

While it might sound sappy, the love we feel for our school is real.

From the day we set foot on what one study has rated the “Happiest College Campus,” we learn the Aggie Spirit and adopt the school’s core values and manifest them in our traditions, our organizations (like Muster and Big Event), and in our daily lives. We accept the responsibility that comes with the privilege of attending Texas A&M.

Being an Aggie means...

▪ Having 418,000 BFFs: This is the number of former students who call Texas A&M their alma mater. Aggie graduates do not refer to themselves as alumni or ex-Aggies. “Once an Aggie, always an Aggie,” as the saying goes, so we are “former students.” The Association of Former Students is one of the largest and most active former student organizations in the nation, and they make the Aggie Network a real and thriving resource.

▪ Proudly sporting the Aggie Ring: It’s as much a fixture as a wedding ring, and (don’t tell our non-Aggie spouses) it means just as much. The famous Aggie Ring is how we identify other Aggies, and the bond is instant. This recognizable gold ring elevates strangers to comrades at a glance and a greeting with, “Class of ’XX!’”

▪ Finding the humor in Aggie Jokes: Most are funny. So why does the Aggie keep a coat hanger in his back seat? In case he locks his keys in his car.

▪ Taking the Aggie Code of Honor to heart: “Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal, nor do they tolerate those who do.”

▪ Loving maroon: We don’t wear orange. Ever. It’s just not our color. Maroon definitely ranks as the new black.

▪ Being the boss: You hear it the day you step on campus as a student: “What do you call an Aggie in five years? Boss.” Aggies take care of Aggies, and those bosses usually hire Aggie graduates. It’s what got me my first job. See: Aggie Network

▪ Having a strong thumb: Gig ’em — or giving the thumbs up hand gesture — began at a 1930 Midnight Yell Practice before a game against TCU. Pinky Downs, Class of 1906, asked the crowd, “What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?” He answered his own question with the term used for frog hunting.

▪ Keeping it classy: We don’t boo; we hiss. We would never storm the field. We say “Howdy!” with relish to any and everyone on campus, even if they happen to wear orange.

▪ Always being ready to serve: It goes without saying considering the school’s military roots and the tradition of the 12th Man. In a 1922 game against Centre College, the Aggies had only 11 healthy players after an injury-plagued first half. Coach Dana X. Bible called student E. King Gill out of the stands to suit up and stay by, ready to play if needed. Gill never got in the game, but he’s the reason Aggies, to this day, stand for every football game. (Yes, the $450 million renovation of Kyle Field sounds like an Aggie Joke when most of the 102,512 seats won’t be used for sitting.) A&M also boasts the largest one-day student run service project in the world with the Big Event. More than 20,000 Aggies come together to serve the Bryan/College Station community.

▪ Remembering every fallen Aggie: Every year since 1922, on San Jacinto Day (April 21), Aggies remember our fellow Aggies who died the past year. During Aggie Muster, the “Roll Call for the Absent” allows friends and family to answer “here” when they hear the name of their lost loved one. More than 300 Musters are held worldwide.

▪ Mugging down: Many Aggies claim it’s the school’s best tradition. You kiss your date after every Aggie score. Scoring=scoring. Why do you think even Wrecking-Crew-loving Aggies have embraced Kevin Sumlin’s high-flying offense?

▪ Whoop”-ing a lot: “Whoop” is the ultimate Aggie approval, but it’s only for upperclassmen and former students. Touchdown? Whoop! Passing your final? Whoop! (Insert a really great t.u. joke here) WHOOP!

We are the Aggies; the Aggies are we.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean