5 Game Day Traditions at Florida State University

5 Game Day Traditions at Florida State University


Florida State football is well known for their game day traditions. As a full-fledged Florida State fan myself, I grew up doing the Tomahawk Chop and listening to the War Chant. Watching Chief Osceola spear the field while riding Renegade last Sunday meant college football was back, baby! In order to start football season off right, here are my favorite, some perhaps lesser-known, Florida State football traditions.

Watch the Skull Session

Two hours before kickoff, music spanning from today’s hits to classic jams can be heard from the Florida State baseball stadium. The Marching Chiefs warm up in front of a small crowd on the Mike Martin Field before every home game. Each section warms up with a different song before they come together. It’s free to watch and is the perfect way to get in the game day mood!

Visit the Sod Cemetery

The Sod Cemetery is my favorite Florida State Football tradition. Next to the Dick Howser Stadium is a small fenced “graveyard” containing soil from other colleges’ football fields. This spooky yet spirited tradition started in 1962. When the football team plays an away game in which they are the underdog, they are only slightly favored, or they are against a big rival, the players rip a chunk of grass and dirt from the field after a victory. The small piece of sod travels back home to Tallahassee to be joyfully buried in the legendary Sod Cemetery. When one of the conquered teams visit Doak Campbell Stadium, the cemetery-keeper lays flowers down on their respective graves. Last week, FSU played Notre Dame. I stopped by to pay my respects to the Sod Cemetery and saw a couple of blue and yellow bouquets on headstones.

Say Hello to Chief Osceola and Renegade

Chief Osceola and Renegade are Florida State’s most beloved mascots! Florida State is closely partnered with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure genuine and respectful presentations of the Seminole culture. To honor the only Native American tribe to never be conquered by the U.S. Government, FSU selects a well-rounded student to represent Chief Osceola at football games. This student wears traditional clothing sewn by the women of the Seminole Tribe. He rides the Appaloosa horse named Renegade on the field during the pregame show. Osceola carries a burning spear while riding around the field, inspiring awe in the stands. The entire stadium shakes as Osceola spears the middle of the field before the game starts. I get chills every single time!

But did you know you can visit them before the pregame starts? Walk around the first floor of the stadium to the north side and you can watch Renegade being prepped for his legendary ride. As a young child, it was so much fun seeing him before he took the field. It felt like I was a part of the FSU tradition.

Take a Picture With the Garnet and Gold Guys

If you see two college guys walking around the stadium covered head to toe in red and yellow glitter, don’t be alarmed. For Florida State, this is completely normal. The Garnet and Gold Guys are a Florida State tradition started in 1998 by the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. If you’re sitting in the student section, make sure to get a picture with them during the game! They stand the entire game at the front of the student section. Keep an eye for them on ESPN as they watch the game; they have the funniest reactions. As a member of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, I have had the honor of befriending several of the Garnet and Gold Guys during the past couple of years. They are incredibly kind! Getting your picture with the Garnet and Gold Guys is a must as an FSU football fan. You might even see them riding to the game on their tandem bicycle. Wave and tell them I said hello!

High Five and Sing the Fight Song With the Players

After a Florida State victory, make your way toward the south end zone. The players pray and jovially congratulate each other after the game. They sing the Fight Song with the fans and give them high-fives over the railing. This is my mom’s favorite tradition! It is a great way to feel connected with the team. If you’re special (or just a super adorable little kid) a player might even give his gloves to you.

Even if you’re not a Florida State fan, I encourage you to partake in these traditions if you’re in town. American football is incredibly unique in how it brings people of all backgrounds together. Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Notre Dame football game (where we almost won). It was my first in-person football game in a long, long time. Doak Campbell Stadium was filled to the top during every quarter. The stadium shook with noise and movement. The feeling of excitement and hope in all the fans was indescribable. The energy in the student section is unparalleled. I’m not necessarily a huge football fan in general, but I love how football brings people together. The adventure at college football games isn’t the game itself: it’s being a small part of something big. These traditions are dear to my heart, and I hope that one day that will be dear to yours, too.

The student section at Doak Campbell Stadium.

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Five Things I Wish I Knew as an Incoming College Freshman

Five Things I Wish I Knew as an Incoming College Freshman

Welcome to this amazing, stressful, wonderful journey called college! Buckle up for the next four (or more) years.

  1. Don’t buy your textbooks before the first day of class. You won’t need them until the second week at the earliest. And never pay the full price! Check Chegg, Amazon, or your campus bookstore for used or rentable copies. During my previous semester I bought one used textbook. That was it. Some professors will pressure you into buying them – especially if they wrote them. Other professors will be more relaxed, emailing you a (possibly illegal) PDF copy of the textbook. A lot of classes are lecture heavy, so don’t buy the book before you get a feel of the class. Trust me on this one!
  2. Get involved in SOMETHING on campus. This will make or break your college experience. There are plenty of ways to get involved in a campus organization. To find organizations you are interested in, I recommend walking around campus during the week before classes start. A lot of campus organizations and clubs refer to this as “Go Week” or “Welcome Week.” Don’t be nervous – they want you to take interest in their organization! As a student leader of a campus organization myself, my day is totally made when eager freshmen approach me with interest in joining my RSO (registered student organization). I joined the FSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry my first year at Florida State. Now, as a senior, I am the Vice President (where has the time gone?). I met several lifelong friends through BCM (including my roommates of two years and counting!) and have learned so many lessons about life, people, and Christ. If you’re an incoming freshman, I encourage you to get involved with a campus ministry, with Greek life (sororities and fraternities), student government, and other clubs (if you’re an FSU freshman, I’ll link some ways to get connected down below – GO NOLES!).
  3. Prepare yourself for parking on a college campus. Parking for my 11 AM Psychology class was the biggest test of my patience. This is a warning for all freshmen or students new to campus: PARKING IS AWFUL. If you’re living on campus, finding a parking space late at night after having dinner with your friends can be difficult. The designated overnight parking fills up fast. And yes, before you think about parking in that nice, open spot meant for day-time parking, you will get a citation. For students that are living off campus, like I do, I suggest scheduling that dreaded 8 AM class. I know it’s early. Limited parking makes you a morning person. The parking garages are going to be empty and you’ll find a parking spot quickly. I remember driving around Pensacola garage at 10 AM my freshmen year, calling my grandma on the phone and asking her to talk me down a metaphorical cliff. I’m dramatic but looking for parking sucks. There’s no way around it. Prepare yourself.
  4. Join a FIG – a Freshman Interest Group. This is the best decision I made as a college freshman! In order to get into a class I needed, my advisor recommended I join a Freshman Interest Group. A FIG is a one-hour class led by a senior or a graduate student. They give you a run-down of college life and things on campus. Your fellow FIG classmates are in at least two of your other classes, making FIGs a great way to establish friendships and find study groups. Plus, seeing a friendly face three to five times a week makes you feel less alone and more a part of the university. I met some of my best friends in my FIG! Even though we aren’t in the same classes anymore, we still make time to see each other and study.
  5. Work hard to maintain balance in your life. You’re on your own for possibly the first time in your life. Everything is exciting – you’re going out and exploring a new city with your new friends, you made a pact with your roommate to be each other’s maid-of-honor, you accidentally stayed up until 6 AM watching conspiring theory videos with people you just met, you slept through your Tuesday 8AM again, etc. Life is moves faster, the world looks brighter, and everything is yours for the taking. But don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Your new friends aren’t going to leave you if you decide to stay in. They will most likely join you at the library if you need to study for an upcoming exam. Go out, have fun, but remember to make some time in your busy schedule to reflect on yourself. To sleep. To pray. To eat – this couldn’t be more important. Fight hard to stay in the middle of the college diet spectrum. Eat healthy, balanced meals throughout the day. Visit your campus counseling services if you need professional guidance or someone to talk to (if you’re an FSU student I will link these down below). They’re here to help you! Participate in campus intramural sports or sign up for a spin class (my personal favorite). Read a book on your campus green (Landis is lovely come October). Call your parents. They miss you. And you miss them, too. Your life at college is going to be amazing and full of adventure. But make sure you stop and take the time to live it.
Check out my WELCOME TO COLLEGE Spotify playlist!

How to Get Connected at Florida State University

I’m praying for you as you start this new adventure! Cherish every moment!