Performances and cheers echoed from the Tower as groups from around campus united Wednesday at the annual Texas Fight Rally to boost morale before Saturday’s Red River Rivalry football game.
For the first time in 30 years, the rally did not feature a torchlight parade. Texas Exes, who sponsors the event, called off the portion earlier this week in light of violence involving torch-bearing protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.
Kim Gundersen, Texas Exes associate executive director, said the event was everything the alumni organization could have hoped for.
“It’s the rally that brings everybody together,” Gundersen said. “I think this was a great night for the Longhorns.”
Cheerleaders, ROTC, band members and Bevo performed for hundreds of students to get the crowd ready for Saturday. Drum Major Jeff Bell said regardless of any changes, Longhorn Band remains the heartbeat of the event.
“There’s always new traditions and things happen that make it where we need new traditions,” computer science senior Bell said. “As long as we have a bunch of fans together supporting our team, then that’s all that matters.”
Trey Walton, Hellraisers spirit group member, has attended the rally for four years and said he was disheartened by the removal of the torchlight portion.
“I would just hope that they would continue the tradition, because it’s a tradition we’ve had for a long time and it adds to the atmosphere,” electrical engineering senior Walton said.
UT football head coach Tom Herman took the microphone to share his appreciation for the crowd’s support. He said it was the crowd’s energy that pulled the Longhorns through in double overtime at last week’s game.
“We need more in the student section, early and often,” Herman said. “We’ve got a big test this week. This is the best rivalry in all of college football, and we’re going to celebrate that.”