From the familiar clang of the Chapel Bell to the twinkling cell phone lights to kick off the fourth quarter of a night game, the University of Georgia has many traditions that students, alumni, faculty and fans hold dear. As the first state-chartered public university in the U.S., UGA had centuries to develop its important traditions, old and new.
As “Glory, Glory” is played in the background, thousands of fans line up behind the Redcoat Band to welcome the football team into Sanford Stadium about two hours before every home game. Small children have the opportunity to high five UGA athletes and coaches during this pregame tradition. Dawg fans chant with UGA cheerleaders and sing along to Redcoat tunes as everyone creates the memorable UGA game day atmosphere before entering the stadium together.
The modern-day Dawg Walk began in 2001 when the head football coach at the time, Mark Richt, appointed a spirit committee to build fan enthusiasm. Dawg Walk was derived from the existing Redcoat Band pregame warmup that previously took place outside of the Tate Student Center.
Ringing the Chapel Bell
“When you hear the chapel bell, you know something good is happening,” said Ashlie Forrester, a senior Spanish major from Lexington.
The familiar clang of the Chapel Bell may signify a Bulldog win, a special occasion or even an academic achievement. Ringing the bell is a tradition adopted by UGA students and fans, and the sound is a universal indication of someone’s good day.
“I first rang the bell the night of my orientation,” said Rebecca Marston a sophomore graphic design major.
On campus since 1832, the Chapel Bell used to adorn the top of the UGA Chapel, but in 1913 the bell was removed from the roof due to its rotten structure.
Historically, the bell rang to begin and end class, to signify religious services and to indicate emergencies. At one time, the bell was even used to signal air raids during World War II.
But as one of UGA’s oldest traditions, the first recorded instance of ringing the bell in a celebration of victory can be found in a publication of The Red & Black from Dec. 1, 1894.
“I feel like it’s a classic,” Marston said. “Everyone loves doing it, and it radiates throughout the city of Athens and campus.”
The Battle Hymn of Bulldog Nation
Just before every home game, UGA fans all point to the single trumpeter standing in the upper-deck, southwest corner of Sanford Stadium as he or she belts the first 14 notes of Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Shortly after, as Battle Hymn continues, the voice of Larry Munson narrates a highlight video featuring UGA football greats such as Herschel Walker and Lindsay Scott.
The piece was arranged by Jeff Simmons, a rehearsal assistant, in 1987, and Battle Hymn was added to the pregame show in 2000 by Brett Bawcum. Potential trumpet soloists go through a rigorous blind audition process to play the coveted solo.
Light Up Sanford
UGA’s night game against Georgia Southern in 2015 was the first time twinkling cell phone lights lit the sky as the Redcoat Band played Krypton to kick off the fourth quarter.
“I light up Sanford because it makes me feel like part of something much bigger than me. Not only part of something that is a big deal in the here and now but also a part of a tradition that has been going on for years and will continue long after I graduate,” said Tara MacMillan, a junior accounting major from Milton.
From home games in Sanford to games at Notre Dame and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, this relatively new tradition quickly became a staple of UGA night games.
Light Up Sanford was the idea of Redcoats Grayze Anne Sepe and Kenneth Hubbard and started with the hashtag #LightUpSanford that spread throughout social media. It quickly took hold within Bulldog Nation.
“In those moments, you can truly see and recognize so many other people who love Georgia football, and you can feel legitimately connected with people you’ve never even met before,” MacMillan said.
Finding Athens Dawgs
More than 36 Bulldog statues are scattered across the city of Athens, according to the UGA Online Learning website. Each Bulldog has a unique appearance that correlates with the building it stands in front of.
The “We Let the Dogs Out” project was started by Athens-Oconee Junior Woman’s Club member Linda Ford and fellow club member Julie Walters, according to the Welcome UGA website.
The goal of this tradition is to take a picture or selfie with each of the 36 bulldogs and appreciate the diversity they represent across Athens.