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VU Football Traditions 101

Posted by on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 in Balance, Student Life, Uncategorized, Vandy Athletics.

First year students lead the team onto the field in 2012. (

I have a confession to make: 2013 has been a little grey for me.  Sure, some great things have happened this year, including the selection of the Class of 2017 and Justin Timberlake’s epic performance at the VMA’s, but if I’m being perfectly honest, something has definitely been missing from my life for the last eight months.

That something was college football.

Thankfully, the Vanderbilt Commodores officially kicked off the 2013 football season with their home opener against Ole Miss last Thursday, and my world has finally returned to Technicolor.

In addition to the big-hitting, nail-biting, high-emotion glory of the game itself, Thursday was also an excellent opportunity to highlight the many traditions, both new and old, that accompany Vanderbilt football.

Star walk: The Vandy “Star Walk” refers to the short path from the McGugin Center, which houses the football locker rooms, to Vanderbilt Stadium.  An hour and a half before kickoff, students and fans join the Spirit of Gold Marching Band and the Vanderbilt cheerleaders on the Star Walk path to cheer on our coaches and players as they walk from the locker rooms to the stadium.

Admissions officers Ricky Thrash and Jason McGrath, along with Director Gaines and Dean Christiansen, drop the anchor before Thursday's game. (

First year students charge the field: Vanderbilt and Ole Miss’s most recently recruited players were not the only freshmen who made an appearance on Dudley field Thursday night.  Before each home opener, Vanderbilt’s first year students are given the chance to lead the team out onto the field as a class.  For many of us alumni, this is the closest we ever got to suiting up for Coach Franklin, and the run never fails to pump up the Vandy faithful both on and off the field.

Dropping the anchor:  The Vanderbilt Anchor was adopted in 2004 as a symbol of unity and strength and accompanies the team to all home and away games.  Before each home game, a group or individual is selected to “drop the anchor” at midfield to mark the beginning of the evening’s events.  Past participants have included prominent faculty, highly accomplished students, and figures in the medical center, but last Thursday’s game featured a particularly handsome group of men from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

The Admiral: If you are ever walking in Nashville near campus and hear an impossibly loud horn blaring, and you think maybe a large ship is approaching you from behind, don’t worry – the Commodores just scored a touchdown.  This horn is called The Admiral, and is sounded after every score by a chosen member of the Vanderbilt Navy ROTC.

VU football is a long-standing tradition in the Pippen household. This is my dog Delta's game face.

Anchor down: Also known as #AnchorDown or “ANCHOR!  DOWN!,” this phrase has worked its way into the Vanderbilt lexicon as the university’s universally known war cry.  The Anchor Down cheer is also led by the student section after each Vanderbilt first down.  If you pass a fellow ‘Dore fan on the street, throw up the “VU” hand sign and give ‘em a good ole “Anchor down.”  He’ll know what you mean.

Alma mater: Win, lose, or draw, Vanderbilt students and fans end every contest with a ceremonial nod to the university that has brought them together.  When the clock has run out and the hand-shaking is done, all of the players return to the student section to join them and the band in a rendition of the Vanderbilt alma mater.

The final and most important Vanderbilt football tradition, of course, is the tradition of excellence.  Tune in this Saturday as the ‘Dores take on Austin Peay in their second home game and try to spot as many of these traditions as you can.

In the meantime, ANCHOR DOWN!

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