My Quaker Club cowbell, one of several 
collected over the years.
(Pic is my own.)

For as long as most living Guilfordians can remember cowbells have been a common sight (and sound) at Quaker sporting events, particularly football games. Although the exact origin is unclear it seems to have stemmed from the fact that Guilford has, almost from the beginning, periodically operated a campus farm and dairy barn, with several cows to supply the cafeteria with fresh milk.

No doubt, many Guilford students were raised on a farm - and were familiar with the actual purpose of cowbells - but in fact, the school tradition may have started with a prank. According to alumni footballer, Tom Evaul '50, the boys from the 1949 squad decided to surprise the co-eds of Mary Hobbs Hall by secretly placing one of those dairy cows inside their dorm parlor late one night. (How they managed to get the poor bovine all the way across campus, up the Hobbs steps, past the housemother's door and into the parlor without anyone noticing is beyond me!). As a homage to the prank, the young ladies from Mary Hobbs, and then Founders, began using cowbells to cheer on the Crimson and Gray at football games. Thus, a venerable campus tradition began.
Alumni ringing the bells.
(Photo: Guilford College.)

Besides being a noisemaker for athletic events, the cowbell was also used by the designated "ringer" of Hobbs and Founders to wake up the residents at first light - well before the campus bell - rousting the ladies of the dorms to breakfast. Many an alumnae have fond memories of having bell ringer duty, including Tanya Feagins '74.

Most Guilfordians have a few cowbell memories, at games, events, parties or otherwise.
I distinctly remember Bev Rogers, wife of Guilford College President (1980 - 1996) Bill Rogers, gleefully clanging an over-sized cowbell during many a football contest of the early 1990s. Today, with our Quaker gridders enjoying a resurgence in the program, the cowbells after a key play or touchdown can drown out the loudspeakers from the announcer's box.     

We're certainly not the only college to do this; it's also an old, well known tradition at Mississippi State University (THUNDEROUS cowbells during games). However, it's a tradition here at good ole' NCAA Division III Guilford College too. In fact, I'll probably have one in each hand for the home contest against rival Washington and Lee University next weekend.

(* Fan pics with cowbells, courtesy of Guilford College.)


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