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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

Our daughter has joined a cult. We don’t mind because at the end of her tenure she’ll get a cape, a doctorate, and the ability to be an expert in ergonomics. That seems a good trade-off for three years of work.

Hubby and I visited our daughter at her new home beside Texas A&M University where she’s working on her PhD program. To say we’re proud of her is an understatement. She’s fully entrained in the Aggieland culture where maroon/white and traditions are king. She comes by it naturally since her grandfather is an Aggie (there is no past tense in being an Aggie) and I was born while he was going to school there. In fact, Daughter’s and SIL’s apartment sits on the site of the old apartment complex that my parents lived in when they were there. It’s on the lot that was my first home. How weird is that!

Texas A&M is a city to itself, with 76,000 students roaming the huge campus in their maroon and white shirts, backpacks, and jackets. Daughter and SIL’s apartment abuts the campus so she can ride her bike to get to and from her office and the lab. It’s a mile and a half hike to Kyle Stadium, the fourth largest football stadium in the nation at 102,000 seats. Our purpose in visiting was to see the Aggies play University of Massachusetts on Kyle Field. We all love football, so we were really looking forward to that.

Part of the process of watching Aggie football is attending Midnight Yell Practice the night before the game. Yes, at midnight the night before, half a stadium of students, parents, and fans gather in the stands to practice the yells, movements, and to be entertained by the Yell Leaders. A&M doesn’t have cheerleaders; they have male yell leaders who are voted on each year. The band plays songs, including the school fight song which Hubby and I knew because we were told we had to learn it by Daughter (there would be a test on it). We sang along and swayed from side to side when we got to the “sawing the horns off” part. It made me dizzy, so it was a good thing people were holding on to me. I’m not sure what time we finally got to bed but it was the wee hours of morning.

Game day dawned gray and rainy and cold. We caught a shuttle about a block from the apartment that took us to the stadium. Daughter had bought a new umbrella for us to use, but no umbrellas were allowed inside. We left them at the gate with the all the others (they were gone when we went back). We made our way up, up, up to our endzone seats. We brought towels to dry off the bench, but it was still really wet. The aluminum plank must bend my way because I sat in a puddle the whole time. The rain was steady, and a stiff, cool breeze fanned us.

We watched most of the first half no complaints. We tried to cheer as best we could. Then the event we were waiting for began. The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band took the field at halftime. If you’ve never seen them perform, go to YouTube and look them up. They are amazing to watch. Their marching goes in all kinds of patterns as they crisscross through each other and down the lines. How they keep from running into each other is amazing. Precision never looked so good. It was the highlight of the game. (Admit it, Aggie football fans, the band remains undefeated.)

When the band left the field, we left our seats and headed out with almost all of the other fans in the stands. Only the lucky ones with seats under an overhang or in the fancy boxes stayed to see the Aggies beat UMass. We made our way out of the stadium, and SIL and I waited in the rain for a shuttle while Hubby and Daughter walked home in the rain. By the time we got back to the apartment and dried off, the game was over.

Later that night, the news reported that the coach was to blame for emptying the stadium in the rain. If he coached better and the team had won more games, the crowd would have stayed. Really? The coach was to blame? I beg to differ. The reason we left was because we were FREEZING! We had enough sense to come in out of the rain and not catch pneumonia. The coach had nothing to do with that. And after they beat LSU this past weekend, I think the coach is doing okay.

Hubby and I will be wearing maroon a lot in the next three years. I already have a shirt that says Aggie Mom on it, plus I had an old sweatshirt with the A&M logo on it. We don’t mind our daughter being in this cult because it will help her achieve her dreams. We look forward to celebrating her next big achievement at the end of her tenure.

At Midnight Yell Practice. Can’t believe we stayed up this late.

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Our daughter seems to have joined a cult. No worries though. At the end of her tenure there, they’ll give her a cape, a doctorate, and the honors that go with it. We’re very proud of her for studying for her PhD at Texas A&M, where tradition and maroon/white are king.

Hubby and I made our first visit to see her since her new adventure began. I’d been to Texas A&M campus before; in fact, I spent time as a newborn there. In fact again, our daughter and son-in-law’s apartment complex is built in the same spot my parents’ apartment was when my dad attended the school so it’s on the spot that was my first home. How weird is that!

It was Hubby’s first visit to the campus of 76,000 students. It’s a city in its own right. Everyone is wearing maroon and/or white shirts as they travel across the many blocks of buildings. Daughter and SIL live on the edge of the university and it’s a mile and a half walk to Kyle Stadium, the fourth largest football college stadium in the U.S. and usually full for every game (more on that later). A&M is a very impressive place of learning. They have so many activities going on with speakers, special projects, and other exciting things, no one can be bored there.

We attended the Midnight Yell Practice that takes place before every game. Texas A&M doesn’t have cheerleaders, they have yell leaders. The yell leaders are men and have been men only since the beginning. They run for the position and are voted in. As far as I know, there’s no rule against girls going it, but the voters on campus decide who they want there. At midnight, half of the stadium is full of students, parents, and security. The yell leaders go through their routines so the crowd knows when to bend over, when to yell, what to yell, and when to do whatever they want you to do. They tell jokes and in general, provide a great pep rally. We sing the A&M fight song (which Daughter made Hubby and I learn) and we sway side-to-side when we “cut the horns off short”. It’s quite the pagentry.

Daughter with the 2022 Texas A&M Yell Leaders

Game day dawned and it was pouring rain and cold. We caught a shuttle a block from the apartment and rode over to Kyle Field. Umbrellas are not allowed inside even though Daughter had bought a new one just for us. We had to leave them outside the stadium (they were gone when we returned). We made our way up to the higher levels and found our seats on the endzone side, uncovered and wet. Hubby has full rain gear, so he didn’t get wet at all. I in my raincoat and rain poncho was soaked from the waist down. The benches were wet even though we’d taken towels to dry them off. Those aluminum benches must bend my direction when I sit because I sat in a puddle. A stiff, cold breeze fanned us as we sat there. We watched most of the first half of the game in the rain.

Then, what we’d waited for the whole time, the band came out during halftime. If you’ve never seen the Texas A&M band march, you should go on YouTube and look for them. They are amazing and very precise. They have lots of crossing each other as they march and it’s awesome to see them perform. I was mesmerized. Those kids went up and down the field, back and forth, crossing between each other countless times, and never missed a beat in the pouring rain and cold wind. The show was well worth getting wet to see.

But once they left the field, we and most of the crowd left the stadium. We were freezing! Not wanting to risk pneumonia, we joined the hordes leaving. Only the ones lucky enough to have seats under the overhangs or fancy boxes were left to watch the Aggies beat the University of Massachusetts. By the time we got back to the apartment and dried off, the game was over. In the news, they made a big deal of how everyone left the game at halftime and blamed the coach. The coach?? Yeah, they said if the coach was better and the team had won more games, no one would have left. That wasn’t true for us. Mother Nature and the good sense to come in out of the rain was what drove us away.

We toured the campus and saw our daughter’s office and lab where she works. She’s become fully steeped in the Aggie traditions and ways. It must be something her Aggie grandfather passed on to her. I got some of it because I was born when he was a student there. She can’t help but be an Aggie through and through. Hubby and I are very proud of her and all her accomplishments. We look forward to celebrating her next great achievement in about three years.

Midnight Yell Practice. Can’t believe we stayed up that late.