College gymnastics fans are still reveling in the recent announcement that Clemson University will be adding a women’s gymnastics team for the 2023-24 season. No one was more excited for this announcement than me: I’m a fifth-generation native of Greenville, South Carolina, (just 30 miles from Clemson) with more friend and family connections to the school than I can count.
So, as CGN’s resident Clemson expert, I’m so excited to welcome the gymternet to the fandom! Here are a few facts and traditions to get you started.
It’s Pronounced CLEMP-sun, not CLEM-zen
Yes, there’s an invisible P between the syllables. It’s subtle, but it is there. This is both the easiest way to identify yourself as a true fan and the quickest way to annoy a true fan.
The Tiger Paw
One of the most iconic logos in NCAA sports, you’ll find the Tiger Paw on pretty much anything and everything in the town of Clemson (even the highway has Tiger Paws to guide your way). You’ll know it’s an official Clemson logo by the little hook on the bottom right of the pad. The tiger, whose paw was used for the design, had a small hook-shaped scar; when the logo was unveiled in 1970, the scar had been faithfully recreated.
Every Friday Clemson students, faculty and staff wear all orange as a show of school spirit and solidarity. A lot of fans and alumni carry this tradition into their school and work lives, too.
Howard’s Rock and The Hill
Like many universities, football is Clemson’s marquee sport, and since 1967, each home game kicks off with the team rubbing Howard’s Rock (imported from Death Valley, Calif., and named for then-football coach Frank Howard) for good luck, as well as running down The Hill onto the field. It’s been hailed as, “The most exciting 25 seconds in college football,” and I have to agree.
The Clemson Tiger—unofficially yet commonly known as 8 Ball—is a fixture at athletic events. At football games, he does push-ups after every score equal to the number of Clemson points. He’s also a frequent guest at local Clemson fans’ weddings. Seriously, I’ve been to no fewer than four weddings with 8 Ball at the reception.
While Clemson’s official motto is, “Who shall separate us now?” fans have adopted football head coach Dabo Swinney’s mantra, “All in,” as both a rallying cry and a culture.
$2 Bills With Tiger Paws
In 1977 longtime football rival Georgia Tech announced it would be the final season Clemson would be included on its schedule. As a show of protest, Clemson fans stamped Tiger Paws on two dollar bills to spend in Atlanta and show the city just how much money they’d be missing out on. What started as a way to troll the Yellow Jackets has become the signature currency of Clemson fans at away games to show opponents that hosting the Tigers is good for the local economy.
First Friday Parade
Football season officially kicks off with the First Friday Parade when students, alumni and fans march through downtown and campus the night before the first home game of the year.
Clemson Blue Cheese
One of my personal favorites, Clemson has been producing blue cheese since 1941 when one of the professors realized that conditions in the old, abandoned Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel would be perfect for the curing process.
Article by Claire Billman
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