Sideline Report with Audrie from Kansas
Saturday, September 6th was the football home opener and Lawrence, Kansas was a beautiful 74 degrees. Kickoff for the Jayhawks was at 6:00 pm against the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO), and the aroma around the stadium was nothing but tailgate grilling.
The University of Kansas is rich in history and tradition. Did you know that Memorial Stadium was the first stadium recognized on a college campus west of the Mississippi River? The stadium’s name is also dedicated to University of Kansas students who fought and lost their lives in World War I. At the University of Kansas we take pride in our Jayhawk family and I am so excited to take you behind the scenes of game day, the Jayhawk way!
TAILGATING ON HISTORIC CAMPANILE HILL
MINGLING WITH THE FANS
Part of my role as a KU cheerleader is to ensure that our alumni and guests have the best game day experience possible. Our visitors and alumni come to town not only for the game but to visit our beautiful campus, mingle with campus organizations and, of course, to tailgate. We make sure that their experience is enjoyable by taking photos and answering any questions they may have.
Another tradition happens 60 minutes before kickoff when the Marching Jayhawks come down the hill to perform fight songs for the crowd.
This is by far my FAVORITE part of the game! KU has five fight songs plus the well-known “ROCK CHALK” chant. Everyone should experience hearing and seeing it for themselves at least once in their lifetime.
“Rock Chalk” is one of the most notable chants in the country. It evolved from a cheer that a chemistry professor, E.H.S. Bailey, created for the KU Science Club in 1886. Bailey’s version was “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU,” repeated three times. The “rahs” were later changed to “Rock Chalk” because of the abundance of limestone (which chalk is made from) on Mount Oread, site of the Lawrence campus. The cheer is so well known that President Teddy Roosevelt pronounced it the greatest college chant he’d ever heard!
Prior to kickoff, teams Jay and Hawk are on opposite sides of the field to get the crowd going with a little ROCK CHALK…JAYHAWK! It’s an amazing sound to hear the words echo through our stadium. For this game, Cedric and I were holding the “Rock Chalk” sign and teammates Kelly and Chase were holding “Jayhawk” on the opposite side of the stadium.
After running the Hawks out on the field, each team takes their sideline and prepares for kickoff. My squad did an AWESOME job this game! The first half, our football team was playing great, so it was easy getting the fans on their feet to make noise. Our first score was a field goal 3 minutes into the game, so we “Waved the Wheat,” which is another fantastic KU tradition. During “Wave the Wheat,” Jayhawks in the stadium lift their arms over their heads and slowly wave them back and forth like Kansas wheat swaying in the wind.
With 11:12 left in the first quarter, the Hawks scored our first touchdown! After we “Waved the Wheat” with the fans, 6 of our guys ran our famous K-A-N-S-A-S flags the entire quarter mile around the stadium. It’s pretty tiring, especially when it’s windy, but it’s also a lot of fun running the flags with pride and high-fiving the kids and students in the front row.
Meanwhile, the other cheerleaders and I do running Fulls in the end zone and then ripple Standing Tucks. After that, we spirit back to our sideline to perform our main fight song, “I’m a Jayhawk.”
Cheering on the Jayhawks for four quarters is an indescribable feeling. It isn’t until the game has ended that you realize how much work has been put into keeping the crowd energized for the team. For us, the 2014 season began with a victory; the Jayhawks beat the Redhawks 34-28!
Thank you for letting me share my game day experience with you. As we here in Lawrence, Kansas say, “ROCK CHALK, JAYHAWK, KU!”
photos by: Corey Stone, KU Cheer Coach