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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Why we stand

12th+man
Photo by Josh McKenna
12th man

The 12th Man has been around in Aggieland since January of 1922, when what is seen today as a tradition was personified and put into practice by A&M’s E. King Gill.

On January 2, 1922 the Texas A&M football team was facing the nation’s top ranked team, Centre College, and struggled to field even one side of the ball. As the game wore on, the list of reserves on the Aggie sideline continued to dwindle until Head Coach Dana X. Bible was left with only 11 players.

Bible called upon E. King Gill, who had been a part of the team earlier in the season but had made the decision to shift his focus to the Aggie basketball team. Fortunately for Coach Bible and the Aggies, Gill was up in the press box during the game helping reporters identify the players on the field. Gill made his way down to the field without hesitation. He put on his pads and uniform, and stood ready on the sideline.

Although Gill never made it on to the field, he stood tall and watched the Aggies upset their top ranked opponent, 22-14. Following the game, Gill said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”

The gesture made by Gill has grown to a grand status. The A&M community saw Gill’s action as a representation of the spirit of service and devotion that has now become commonplace in the arenas the Aggies compete in. Now, almost 100 years later, the A&M fan base has proudly assumed the role of the 12th Man. Waiting to call upon if needed, the 12th Man stands during the entirety of Texas A&M football games.

In the 1980s, A&M head football coach Jackie Sherrill began what was known as the 12th Man kickoff team. The 11 member special teams squad was compiled of what you could call ‘regular students’ who earned a spot through open tryouts. The concept has since been tweaked, and now there is a lone 12th Man representative — a walk-on player that participates in Aggie special teams.

The 12th Man was brought to the mainstage via the A&M football program. However, the reach of the Aggie tradition expands across all of A&M’s athletic teams. The methods vary from sport to sport, but whether it be football or equestrian, the 12th Man shows up to support Aggies.

A recent example of the impact the Aggie tradition holds was the College Station Regional Tournament in which A&M baseball fought back from their place in the loser’s bracket to advance in postseason play. Following the tournament, junior catcher Michael Barash said the impact of the 12th Man carried the team through the postseason.

“I really can’t thank the 12th Man enough for what they did for us,” Barash said. “They were there all weekend and this was the loudest I’ve seen this place in a long time.”

Coach John Chavis, defensive coordinator of the A&M football team and previously a member of the LSU coaching staff, said the 12th Man made an impact on him prior to his time at A&M.

“I’m talking about classy, I’m talking about great people,” Chavis said. “I’ve not seen a classier group of fans – and that’s well before I ever came here – than I did in Aggieland.”

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