225+ years of Volunteers
Checkerboard games and Torch nights, painting the Rock, and wearing orange on Fridays—these are the moments that bind us together. Our Volunteer traditions run deep. They inspire us to continue creating better futures. To push the boundaries of research and innovation. To serve communities, near and far.
We are the Tennessee Volunteers.
We light the way for others.
At the foot of the iconic Torchbearer statue, you’ll find a plaque inscribed with the Volunteer Creed: “One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.” It is a creed that inspires every Volunteer to lead, serve, and light the way. Every year, select seniors are honored as Torchbearers, an award recognizing them for academic achievement and outstanding commitment to others.
In 1980, the Rock became a campus communications hub and palette for hellos and goodbyes, birthday wishes, event announcements, sports hype, marriage proposals, and political endorsements.
Every Friday, near and far, members of the Volunteer family are encouraged to represent UT by wearing orange. In 1889, UT Athletic Association President Charles Moore chose the school’s orange and white colors for the first field day. The colors were later endorsed by the student body in 1892.
In 2014, Vol fans Spencer Barnett, Tim McLeod, and Jonathan Briehl helped create a one-game-each-season tradition when fans wear orange or white by section in Neyland Stadium, creating a checker pattern. Vol fans also checker basketball games at Thompson-Boling Arena.
As you venture around campus, you’ll find the university’s seal is proudly displayed on the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway next to Hodges Library. But be careful! Students warn that walking across the seal could be disastrous. In fact, legend says that those who walk across it won’t graduate in four years.
Before every home game, the football team makes its way down Peyton Manning Pass—led by Smokey and the Volunteer—to the stadium gates. This is the immensely popular Vol Walk. Fans line the streets of campus to cheer on the team and watch the Pride of the Southland Band perform as they march into the stadium.
In 1962, after radio broadcaster George Mooney traveled the Tennessee River to a Vols football game by boat, fans made boating to football games a tradition.
Smokey, our beloved bluetick coonhound mascot, has a tradition of his own! At every home football game, Smokey leads the Vols through a T formed by the Pride of the Southland Band onto the field. And watch for him to run the sidelines with every Vol touchdown!