Johnson City Press: Traditions grow as ETSU football season nears

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Traditions grow as ETSU football season nears

Contributed • Updated Aug 31, 2018 at 6:45 PM

Game day traditions are a major part of the pageantry that make college football a special experience, and as the Buccaneers prepare to open their 2018 season against Mars Hill today, East Tennessee State University is reminding fans of traditions that highlight game days inside William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.

Here’s a look at some of the traditions, history and symbolism surrounding ETSU football:

Foundation Rocks

Two special rocks removed from the stadium site during construction have been placed inside the stadium. One is on the east concourse for fans to see and touch as they enter the stadium, while the second is located under the videoboard in the south end zone and will be touched by the team as they enter the field. This is a symbolic gesture of the rebirth of the program and shows the unified spirit between the team, students and fans.

Bank of Tennessee Arch

Brick arches once greeted fans of Buccaneer football when they attended games in the original Memorial Stadium, which was located where the ETSU Athletic Center now sits. The Bank of Tennessee Arch now stands in tribute to the original on campus stadium and the history of ETSU Football.


The Bucs’ helmets are painted navy blue with gold flakes. The gold is included to harken back to the program’s tradition of gold helmets and a tribute to all former players who wore the gold helmet prior to 2003.

Buc Walk

Beginning at the ETSU Athletic Center two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff, the Buc Walk is a tradition that connects everyone in Blue & Gold. The Bucs will move west adjacent to the parking garage and turn south on Jack Vest Drive toward the stadium. Led by the cheer and dance teams and the Marching Bucs, the Buc Walk will move through the fan tailgate areas before concluding as the team enters the stadium through the Bank of Tennessee Arch. At that time, the Marching Bucs will face east toward the students and play a salute to campus.

Gold Jersey

The Bucs will wear gold jerseys for special games, such as the season opener or homecoming. This decision to wear the gold jerseys is made by the team.

Golden Globe Gingko Trees

Part of the Embrace Excellence Initiatives, donors to the Family Tree Legacy can put their mark on the stadium by sponsoring these trees, which will turn a beautiful ETSU gold in the fall and will line the entryways into the stadium.

Running through the "E"

As the Bucs take the field each home game, the Marching Bucs form the E logo at the south end of the field facing west. The Bucs sprint through the state of Tennessee portion of the E toward midfield before turning to the sideline.

Flag Presentation

Before each game, three ETSU players are selected to lead the team onto the field carrying the ETSU, Tennessee and U.S. flags. The flags are then presented to three special guests at midfield, who are honored for their service to either ETSU, the state or the country.

Student Connection and Stadium Site

The stadium is oriented to directly connect campus to the entryway at the Bank of Tennessee Arch, which is an axis point that splits the 50-yard line running east directly through the Arch, east roundabout, down the sidewalk by Lucille Clement and directly to the D.P. Culp Student Center. This serves as a literal connection between ETSU students and the football program.

Buccaneer Greats

Before each game, one former Buccaneer player will be selected to participate in the coin flip at the 50-yard line. This “Buccaneer Great” will then be honored briefly prior to kickoff.

Postgame Alma Mater Ceremony

After each home game, the Bucs will make their way to the northeast corner of the stadium, and with their helmets raised high, will stand before the Marching Bucs for the playing of the ETSU Alma Mater.

Sounds of the Bucs

The ETSU Marching Bucs perform three school songs during games: the traditional “Fight! Fight! Fight!” which has accompanied ETSU athletic events for decades; the new “Buccaneer March,” introduced for the return of football in 2015; and the institution’s alma mater. Lyrics for “Fight! Fight! Fight!” and ETSU Alma Mater are below:

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Fight, fight, fight with all your might,

Vic-tor-y will our slogan be,

Dear alma mater, fairest of all,

Our loyal sons will obey thy call to …

Fight, fight, fight with all your might,

Ever the goal to gain,

Into the game for Ole State’s Fame

Fight on to Victory

ETSU Alma Mater

In the Shadow of the mountains,

Under Skies of blue,

Stands our dear old Alma Mater,

Glorious to View,

Sound the chorus, speed it onward;

Thee we'll never fail!

Hail to thee, our Alma Mater -

Hail to thee, all hail!

In thy halls we formed our friendships,

Dear old college home;

And to thee we pledge our hearts,

Wherever we may roam,

Sound the chorus, speed it onward;

Thee we'll never fail!

Hail to thee, our Alma Mater -

Hail to thee, all hail!

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