What is the significance of the Cadet Colors?
They represent the components of Gun Powder - which are charcoal, saltpeter (potassium nitrate) and sulfur, which are black, gray, and gold in color.
As one experiences West Point in person, one also associates these colors with other elements of West Point life and experience.
Grey - The Long Grey Line (refers to West Point alumni), Dress Grey, which is one of many cadet uniforms made out of heavy Grey Wool. Many of the buildings in the cadet academic area are built from the local granites of the Hudson Valley.
Black - "Black Knights of the Hudson" refers to the nickname Army Footballers received by early media recalling their typically black wool jerseys. The regal Black Tarbucket of the Full Dress Uniform. The Black trim of the cadet uniform, the polished black shoes.
Gold - Gold as in the Class Rings received cadet's senior year, or like the plentiful Brass found on the cadet uniform and the rank/insignia patches worn by upperclassmen designating their cadet rank and position.
The choice of the mule as a mascot reflects the long-standing usefulness of this animal in military operations - hauling guns, supplies and ammunition. Strong, hearty and persevering, the mule is an appropriate symbol for the Corps of Cadets.
The first Army mule, however, pulled an ice wagon. He became a mascot when an officer at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot decided that Army needed something to counter the Navy goat in the 1899 game between the rival service academies.
So the ice-wagon mule - an oversized white animal - was curried and groomed, then outfitted with leggings, a collar and a gray blanket. Black, gold and gray streamers fluttered from the mule's ears and tail.
Three mules, the heirs of a tradition dating back to 1899, currently serve as Army mascots for the Corps of Cadets at the U. S. Military Academy sporting events and various public relations spirit support events.
The three current mules are named RAIDER, RANGER and SCOTTY. The Army Mule Mascots are trained by cadet Mule Riders who are a part of the Spirit Support Activity of the U.S. Corps of Cadets. One Mule Rider is selected from the fourth class each spring based on expert horsemanship, spirit and leadership. The Mule Rider progresses through the class system until he or she is promoted to Cadet-In-Charge of Mule Riders during the cadet's first class year. Usually, there are three Mule Riders (one from each of the upper classes).
THE BLACK KNIGHT: Through the early decades of the program, the academy's football team garnered the nickname "The Black Knights of the Hudson" due to the predominate black color of its uniforms set against the castle-like backdrop of West Point's formidable buildings. This nickname has since been officially shortened to "Black Knights" which today refers to all of Army's athletic squads, not just the varsity football squad.
As Army looked to update is collegiate image at the start of the 21st Century, the Army Athletic Association adopted several new logos based around the Black Knight and Army "A" theme. The caped "A" man logo featured on the 50 yard line of Blaik Field at Michie stadium is the most familiar as is often referred to as "A" Man.
"A" Man itself harkens back to another unofficial academy tradition of having the strongest cadet in the Corps of Cadets proudly wear a knight's heavy suit of armor. Many variations of the black knight mascot have since graced the sidelines of Army Football, though the mule remains, the official mascot. ?
THE 12th MAN: The 12th man tradition was born in January 1922. Texas A&M was playing Centre College, then the top team in the country. Afraid he might not have enough players to finish the game, Coach Bible remembered that there was a squad man in the press box identifying players. That man, E. King Gill, was a former football player, but that made no difference to Bible, who called Gill down and suited him up just in case.
Despite never getting into the game, Gill's willingness to suit up and stand on the sidelines and wait to be called on was admired by all. Said Gill, "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 spirit of the 12th man standing ready to help the team was soon adopted by the student section and over time the entire student section was dubbed "The 12th Man."
At Army, the 12th man collectively refers to the Corps of Cadets in the stands, who, through their passionate cheers and noisemaking, often make it difficult for the opposing team to hear their offensive calls. Typically, the conductor of the pep band paints his face with the number "12" in a combat pattern as it is the pep band that often rallies the corps behind the team.
ARMY TEAM TRADITIONS
THE MARSHALL PLAQUE
"I WANT A WEST POINT FOOTBALL PLAYER."
At every game, home or away, Army Football players will take the field after placing their hands as they pass by the bronze Marshall Plaque which is held by an Army officer with affiliations to the team.
The wording on a bronze plaque, placed near the southeast corner of Michie Stadium, has been recognized over the years as a splendid compliment, not only to West Point, but also to the long line of West Point football players who are a unique breed, indeed.
Gen. George C. Marshall, then-Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, needed an officer to train and lead a ranger-type battalion on a secret mission. He requested the Secretary of the General Staff to obtain this officer. Little did the famous Virginia Military Institute graduate realize, but he was furnishing the words that later were to become of utmost importance to the U.S. Military Academy. His orders were simple and concise.
"I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point Football player!"
It was only an ordinary statement made during the busy, everyday activities at the Pentagon; but it was a remark that came at a very crucial period of World War II, and one that was destined to join other well-remembered phrases which at a particular times, supplied the needed inspiration to accomplish a task.
"HONORING THOSE WHO SERVE IN THE ARMY WORLDWIDE"
At each game, home or away, the Army Football uniforms are outfitted with the Divisional Patch of one of the Ten Active Army Divisions. This is done to honor the brave men and women who serve around the globe in our U.S. Army.
The commanding general of that week's Army Division prepares a letter to the Black Knight squad, which is then posted in the locker room entrance.
Army Football Fans
Army Football instills great passion and pride in our fans. "It's more than just a game at West Point" is a common phrase that describes just how much this team means to those who follow the program.
We think West Point has some of the greatest fans; our alumni, cadets, West Point staff and regional fans all bring great spirit and support for the squad both at Michie Stadium and in our media outlets. Yet it is more than just a game at Army - because Army Football, along with the other service academy programs, draw fan support from the servicemen and women of those armed forces. From the retired four-star general to the newly enlisted recruit, all will surely root for Army on game day, and those cheers get even louder when it comes to our rivalry matchups against Air Force and Navy.
Army A Club and Alumni - The Army A Club is Army's official development and fundraising office. The efforts of the Army A Club have helped West Point's intercollegiate squads compete in some of the most state of the art athletic facilities in the nation. They work in conjunction with the Center for Academy Advancement, which is part of West Point's alumni organization, the Association of Graduates, the United States Military Academy's alumni body. Since 1999 West Point Alumni have raised over 100 million dollars to support the Intercollegiate Athletic program and athletics endeavors at West Point.
Cadets - The United States Corps of Cadets attend every home game. They are the "12th Man" or "Twelfth Knight" as it were, of the squad. Led by the Spirit Band, and the Cheerleading Squad (called Rabble Rousers) the cadets are well known to great lengths in showing their support for the team and making noise for opponent's offenses. Traditions include freshmen heading down to the field to pushups when Army scores, as well as the "the Rocket" which, when it is led by a General Officer is called "Big Brass Rocket!"
Regional Fans - West Point is one of the few Division I college football programs in the lower Hudson Valley / New York City metro area. West Point offers breathtaking scenery, American history and big time college football all in a single outing, and these fans will come in droves when the colors of fall start to turn, and the Hudson Valley is aflame with vibrant colors.
Service Men and Women in the United States Army - Though often not able to attend a home game at Army, many are able to view the action through military sites such as AKO. Fan support from Army service members comes to a feverish pitch when they the service academy rivalry games take place.
And then there are just people who come to love our team because they love our country, and love that these young men will graduate from West Point and lead our nation's armed forces and the many young men and women of our U.S. Army whom they know in their home towns and cities who we represent every time we take the field.
We are Army... and it is more than just a game.
GAME DAY PAGEANTRY
Long ranked at the top of all college game day experiences in the country, few programs can match the pageantry, tradition and spirit of competition like those on display at West Point during home games.
It is at moments, like stepping back in time. Three hours before kickoff, the Cadet Review draws thousands of visitors who quietly observe the regiments of cadets pass and review on The Plain, the large grassy area in front of the barracks. It is the same patch of earth that George Washington strode when West Point was a strategic revolutionary war stronghold under his command. It is not hard to imagine a young Grant, Lee, MacArthur or Eisenhower lamenting to peers the discomfort of the stiff-ribboned collar of the cadet dress grey uniform. Things like this don't change at West Point, nor do the lasting contributions West Point graduates have made to the history of our country and world.
As the day races towards kickoff and the action moves to Michie Stadium, a modern college game day emerges. Tailgate parties of all size, planning and expense are set up and many will remain long after the final whistle blows. In recent years, fans have enjoyed "Black Knight Alley," a pre-game entertainment area where food, music, and amusements converge with Army spirit. Fans welcome the Black Knights off their team bus and into the stadium and frequently have opportunities to interact with legends of Army athletic history.
And then it's time to enter Michie Stadium. Build it 1926 and expanded over the years, it is both classic and modern, having enjoyed recent facelifts to its structure and upgrades to both its playing surface and visual displays. Those not afraid of heights can ascend to the top of the West Stands and be rewarded not only with a terrific bird's eye view of the football action, but a broad sweeping view of the Hudson River Valley near West Point.
The Corps of Cadets cheering, the cannons booming, the band playing "On Brave Old Army Team," everything is familiar to a college game day, but done in West Point's own unique way. Pageantry is sourced in pride, yet at West Point, it is not National Championships or conference domination that makes fans swell with spirit. It is the fact that these young men are not only football stars, but also warriors, leaders and young men of character who, may, like Eisenhower, play football at West Point, experience combat and go forth and write new chapters of American history.
As the saying goes, "It's more than just a game at West Point."
QUOTES ABOUT TRADITIONS
"There is nothing like being at Michie Stadium on the banks of the Hudson River with the leaves changing during the third weekend in October. The scenery is incredible. And how about the inspiration drawn from being at such a historic landmark? You see the statues of MacArthur, Patton and Eisenhower. Then on game day morning, you have the pleasure of witnessing the Cadet Parade. And how about when the cadets sing 'On Brave Old Army Team?' That is an unbelievable moment."
- Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN.com
"It doesn't take long to fi gure out that West Point is a special place. Statues attest to the extraordinary people who lived, studied and trained there. Historic landmarks recall powerful events that are rooted in its red-brown New York soil. Cannons are everywhere, as are memorials and special tributes to heroic men who fought in not-forgotten wars. It's an elegant setting for a football program that also is steeped in tradition.
"Fans still flock to venerable Michie Stadium to experience an atmosphere and pageantry that only West Point can supply. West Point is all about chills, goosebumps and sentimentality. When you enter one of the Academy's four gates, be prepared for a battle of the senses that is sure to be fought on several emotional levels. Army is power and strength, patriotism and pride, sad memories and hope -- presented in a pastoral masterpiece."
- "EVERY SATURDAY IN AUTUMN, COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S GREATEST TRADITIONS"
PRESENTED BY THE SPORTING NEWS
"A game day at West Point captures the entire community and attracts crowds from literally around the world. It begins with awe inspiring pageantry and exhibitions that showcase the Academy and the Army. At game time Michie Stadium erupts behind the '12th MAN,' The United States Corps of Cadets! This majestic national treasure and its stunning surroundings are never more alive than when the ARMY TEAM plays at home."
- Rich Ellerson, Head Football Coach