I will never forget certain things about my first football game as a Demon Deacon, although, to tell you the truth, I can’t remember what team we played or what the final score was. All I really remember is feeling like I was in well over my head. Everyone seemed to know songs that I had never heard, cheers I had never seen and if they weren’t fully clad in black and gold, they likely wore bow ties or sundresses. Clearly, there were things about this school I did not yet understand, but I wanted to learn and fully embrace the Deac culture.
Now that I’m beginning my senior year and fully immersed in the community, I have resolved not to take any of the things that make this school special for granted. I am determined to get the most out of my remaining time here, starting with the season home opener. After all, football games have always been my favorite venue for demonstrating school spirit. As my friends and I celebrated our match-up against Liberty, I couldn’t help but think about the traditions that make Wake unique. So, I entered the first of my last football games with a nostalgic eye open to what it is that can turn such unique individuals into a single Old Gold and Black spirit.
The unifying power of our collective school identity became clear as soon as Liberty got set to kick off. The beat of the fight song turned the crowd into a single force, clapping in rhythm, shaking their keys and joining their voices together, as if to guide the football smoothly into the punt returner’s hands. From that point on, the crowd and players seemed as one, fighting for a common goal and to pronounce our school victorious. As a final celebration of our identity, first-years and seniors alike celebrated as students always have after a win, by rolling the quad.
The enthusiasm surrounding football games may have prompted my nostalgia for Wake Forest traditions, but the home opener is really just a backdrop for the pride that wells up inside all Wake Foresters collectively. Tradition permeates all aspects of our campus lives, not just the games and tailgates. Whether attending the inaugural Lilting Banshees performance or crowding Shorty’s for their first meal of the semester, I see students approaching the new school year with a renewed vigor for all the things that make them Deacs. The enthusiasm and pride that we take in being students here propels us to do great things throughout our community and beyond, and that is what makes Wake Forest a special place.
We are encouraged to forge our own paths and celebrate the differences that make Wake Forest students individuals, but it is the things that link and unify us that I have only just begun to appreciate. Our teams might not always win, just as we may not always find it easy to fulfill the expectations that come with being enrolled at a place with such high standards. But when we graduate, we will define our experience by the things that unified us and remember, above all, the traditions we shared.
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