June 20, 2024

Tuesday Traditions: The color orange and the Volunteers nickname

This week in Tuesday Traditions, lead sports staff writer Sam Forman discusses the color orange and the Volunteers’ nickname.

This week in Tuesday Traditions, lead sports staff writer Sam Forman discusses the color orange and the Volunteers’ nickname.

There are many great traditions at the University of Tennessee and we will cover most of them over the course of the 2015 football season. There is no better place to start than with how Tennessee got its distinct shade of orange.

Tennessee orange is a unique shade of orange, different from any other university. The UT Office of Communications and Marketing says on their website “Others may also wear orange, but for them it is a color chosen. For the University of Tennessee, orange is at the core of who we are.”

The shade has changed slightly over the years but has remained one of the most prevalent factors in the UT brand. Whether it’s in Neyland Stadium on a Saturday in the fall, Thompson Boling Arena for a big basketball game, or even in the stands at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, the color orange remains unique to the Vols.

Some think it’s the best orange around, while a good number of opposing fans hate it. But make no mistake about it: One can always tell if the Vols are on the field.

So, where did UT’s shade of orange come from?

In 1889, UT athletics association president Charles Moore spotted a group of orange and white daises growing on The Hill. The small cluster of wild daisies went on to inspire the idea which formulated into Tennessee’s distinctive orange color.

Accompanying the pleasant shade of orange is the synonymous “Volunteers” nickname. The word “volunteers” actually has been tied to the state since the start of the War of 1812. At the time, U.S. President James Madison called for the service of Tennesseans to fight in the war. He received a large number of volunteers.

The state’s reputation began then and held true during the Mexican-American War when the secretary of state asked for 2,800 Tennesseans to aid General Sam Houston. The state officially earned the nickname of the “Volunteer State” when 30,000 people responded to the call.

It was not until 1902 that UT’s athletes were first referred to as Volunteers. The Atlanta Journal Constitution bestowed the moniker on Tennessee’s football team after a game with Georgia Tech.

Since then, UT has gone by the Volunteer nickname and even has a mascot to represent it. The Volunteer, modeled after Davy Crockett, is on the sidelines of almost all UT football games and also helps lead the team onto the field.

Featured image by Clay Seal

Edited by Cody McClure


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Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman