By BRUCE GUTHRIE
SPECIAL TO THE LOG CABIN
It’s a tradition that was born because of football, and now the tradition’s 100th year will celebrate football’s rebirth.
On Sept. 7, the Hendrix Warriors play their first football game in 53 years, and the Shirttails has something in store to celebrate the gridiron resurrection.
According to the Hendrix University website, Shirttails, a dance competition of first-year students, has been a Hendrix tradition since 1913. It has evolved over the years, and today it is a fun and friendly dance competition that takes place between first-year students living in the residence halls.
The purpose of the event is to promote unity, fellowship, and school spirit among new students and current residents of all campus halls.
The tradition was birthed after an historic win on the football field.
On November 7, 1913, the Hendrix Bulldogs beat Ole Miss 8-6. A spontaneous celebration erupted as over 200 male students paraded in their pajamas through downtown Conway. Community members crowded the streets to watch as the group traveled to what is now Central Baptist College and UCA, seeking praise from administrators and professors at the schools.
In the 1920’s, the parade had been reenacted a few times and morphed into a Pajama Parade where male students travelled to the all-female Central College to serenade female students. The serenades stayed on campus after Galloway Hall, the first woman’s dorm at Hendrix, was constructed in the 1930’s.
Over the years, the tradition grew, and competition developed as more men’s dorms were built by the mid-1950s.
With men bringing props, instruments, and dance moves to enhance their elaborate serenading routines, the ladies felt they should return the favor. Thus, in 1984 the female version of Shirttails was born.
For the next two decades, the tradition continued to evolve, little by little, until it took the shape of the dance competition that occurs today. While the dancing has become the focus of our modern-day festivities, the Wednesday night Serenades are a nod to Shirttails’ earliest beginnings. Over these last 100 years, the events of Shirttails have slowly changed but the uniform of boxers and button-downs and the spirit of camaraderie remains the same.
Jim Wiltgen, who serves as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said that the two student coordinators of Shirttails came to him with an idea to add a pep rally to the traditional competition.
“It actually comes from the students themselves, who really wanted to make those football ties again,” Wiltgen said. “In fact they are the ones that are embodying the concept of the 100th anniversary of the very first Shirttails, and the ties that go back to football. So it really seemed like a natural fit to tie it back to football.”
The pep rally will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 28 with the traditional Shirttails competition slated for Aug. 31, one week before the first football game.
Neelam Vyas, who is co-chair of the Shirttails Serenade Committee as well as President of the Student Senate said the tie in to the tradition’s 100th anniversary and football was natural.
“We wanted to highlight the history of Shirttails, and football at the same time,” Vyas said, “and we thought it was an opportunity to highlight all of our sports programs and get the students excited about our athletic programs.”
As football draws near, it’s clear that excitement is building. The celebration of a new era in Warrior athletics is very near.