Nothing gets football fans fired up faster than their school’s fight song.
Boston College is credited with composing the first fight song in 1885. Safe to say in the past 132 years, most universities have followed.
While some schools compose original melodies, many use existing tunes with customized lyrics. The University of South Carolina’s fight song, “The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way,” uses the tune “Step to the Rear” from the 1967 musical “How Now, Dow Jones.” The music was chosen as the USC fight song by former football coach Paul Deitzel, who also wrote the lyrics, in 1968.
At some point during the past 132 years, high schools also picked up the tradition of having a customized fight song. Fans, students, players and alumni may not know the words. They may not know the song’s title, but they know it when they hear it. And they know their cues.
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And chances are, when they hear it, they start clapping, cheering and showing team spirit.
We asked every high school in Richland and Lexington counties to tell us about their fight songs. Here is what we learned:
Name: “Victory Special”
Notes: Fans clap during the song. After the fight song, the Panther Band plays a drum cadence while cheerleaders and fans dance.
Name: “Eagle Victory”
Tune: “Wildcat Victory,” Kansas State University’s fight song
Notes: Fans shout “Go Eagles!” during the song.
Name: “On Wisconsin”
Tune: University of Wisconsin’s fight song
Notes: Fans clap on the beat, and the team enters the field as the fight song is played.
Name: Eau Claire Fight Song
Notes: Written, arranged and composed by Myron Thomas.
Name: “GHS Fight Song”
Tune: Based on “Hail to the Redskins”
Notes: Fans shout “Go Big Red” at the end and do a tomahawk chop.
Name: “Across the Field”
Tune: An Ohio State University fight song
Notes: Drums play, then fans shout, “Go Irmo!”
Name: “Wildcat Fight Song”
Tune: Based on Notre Dame University’s “Victory March”
Notes: Fans shout “Go Cat.”
Name: “The Victors”
Tune: Based on the University of Michigan fight song
Notes: Fans clap along to the beat and yell “Go Panthers” at the end.
Name: “Ridge View High School Fight Song”
Tune: “Mighty Oregon,” the University of Oregon’s fight song
Notes: Lyrics were written in 1995 when the school opened.
Name of fight song: “Gators Fight”
Tune: Based on “War Eagle,” Auburn University’s fight song
Notes: Band director Ken Turner wrote the lyrics three years ago for the school’s second football season. Fans do the Gator chomp at the end.
Name: “The Spring Valley Fight Song”
Tune: Original melody
Notes: Spring Valley student John Frick wrote the song in the early 1980s. He enjoyed learning to write music and wanted to take on the project as he planned to major in music at USC. Fans shout “Go Vikings” during the song, and during a drum break they spell out “Spring Valley.”
Name: “Fight Song”
Tune: Northwestern University’s (in Chicago) fight song
Notes: In the spring of 2012 when the school prepared to open, school officials looked up and found about 20 different fight songs from across the country. “We tried to avoid SEC and ACC and instead looked for schools in other parts of the country, where the students and parents here would not likely have heard the tune,” says Daniel H. Humber, band director and Fine Arts Department chairman. “We selected Northwestern University and asked Gordon ‘Dick’ Goodwin, USC professor emeritus, to arrange that tune for us.” There is a percussion break in the middle where the fans chant “Go RedHawks.”
Name: “Timberwolf Battle Cry”
Tune: Based on “Battle Cry,” an Ohio State University fight song
Notes: Written when the school opened in 2000.
W. J. Keenan
Name: “Hosts of Freedom”.
Tune: “Hosts of Freedom”
Notes: The song was written by Karl L .King, a bandmaster and composer.
Lyrics to the University of South Carolina’s fight song, “The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way:”
Hey, Let’s give a cheer, Carolina is here,
The Fighting Gamecocks lead the way.
Who gives a care, if the going gets tough,
And when it is rough, that’s when the ’Cocks get going.
Hail to our colors of garnet and black,
In Carolina pride have we.
So, go Gamecocks go – FIGHT!
Drive for the goal – FIGHT!
USC will win today – GO COCKS!
So, let’s give a cheer, Carolina is here.
The fighting Gamecocks all the way!