We thought it might be a good opportunity to revisit the origins of the famous rock that gets rubbed as players head down the Hill for home football games.
In August 2018, Kristen ’11 and Atticus ’11 Mabry ascended up the Mountaineer Route of Mount Whitney to a height of 14,505 feet.
“Unbelievably enough, there were graduates from University of South Carolina, University of Georgia and University of Florida all at the same time. The Mountaineer Route takes three days from the Whitney Portal but affords amazing views of the night sky and glacier lakes. Following the descent, we traveled through (the other) Death Valley at -282 feet. We highly recommend anyone looking to do this hike to contact Sierra Mountain Center for a guide! They made the entire experience just unbelievable.”
My Clemson experience was many years in the making.
When I was nine, I went to live with my grandmother. My great aunt took me to Clemson games, where I learned Clemson history and traditions. Each year my Christmas present was going with my aunt to see Clemson play in their bowl game. I dreamed of playing in Tiger Band and becoming a nurse. When I wasn’t accepted to Clemson my senior year in high school, I was very disappointed, but determined never to give up on that dream.
I started taking classes at Greenville Technical College, but marriage and two children interrupted my education. In 2002, I returned to school and graduated as a respiratory therapist. Working full time, I attended Tri-County Technical College, graduating in 2012 as a registered nurse. It was a busy time — our son played basketball and participated in high school band, and our daughter cheered and danced on a competition team, but we never missed a beat.
I held on to my dream of becoming a Clemson graduate. At the age of 40, I applied to Clemson’s RN/B.S. nursing program and was accepted to begin in the spring of 2015. It was an outstanding program and very manageable for a working nurse. But I had one more dream to fulfill … to play in Tiger Band. I worked it out with my boss to adjust my work schedule so that I could attend band camp and practice throughout the fall. My Clemson dream was coming to pass.
I couldn’t wait to put on my uniform and play “Tiger Rag” for 80,000 fans in Death Valley, but I never expected to have such an outstanding football season — I went to Syracuse, the ACC Championship, Miami for the Orange Bowl and all the way to Arizona for the National Championship. Who would have dreamed all this?
On December 17, 2015, I graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in nursing, and my diploma hangs in a central location in my home as a reminder that with hard work, you can accomplish your dreams.
No matter where life takes me, my blood will always run orange. I’m Jeannie Brown, and this is MY Clemson.
Photos courtesy Imagine Studios.
“Put about 10,000 seats behind the YMCA. That’s all you’ll ever need.”
Those were the words of Coach Jess Neely as he left for Rice after the 1939 season. Fortunately, Clemson didn’t follow his advice.
In 1941, the S.C. General Assembly authorized the issuance of $100,000 in bonds to build a stadium. The project was a mid-1900s version of a Creative Inquiry project: Civil engineering students did the preliminary surveying, Professor H.E. “Pop” Glenn and Carl Lee, a 1908 engineering alumnus, provided the design and construction drawings, and players cleared the hill- sides. Coach Frank Howard and returning football players laid the sod in the summer of 1941. Legend has it that Howard put a plug of tobacco into each corner of the stadium as the concrete was poured.
When all was said and done, it seated about 20,000 fans in 26 rows. The University’s trustees named it Memorial Stadium, commemorating all of the alumni, faculty and staff who had died in service to the country.
The first game of the season in 1942 was against Presbyterian College, as it had been since 1930, and Clemson rolled over them 32-13. PC head coach Lonnie MacMillan is credited with providing the stadium its nickname in 1951 after being defeated 53-6.
“It’s like going into Death Valley,” he said.
The name stuck and gained even more traction with the addition of Howard’s Rock in 1966, presented to Coach Frank Howard by an alumnus after a trip to California’s Death Valley. It was at the 1967 game against Wake Forest when rubbing The Rock became a tradition. Legend has it that Coach Howard challenged the team by saying, “If you’re going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you’re not, keep your filthy hands off it.”
Another 17,500 seats were added in 1958 (overseen by Professor Glenn), and in 1957, the first Tigerama was held. In 1960, dressing rooms, restrooms and additional concession stands were added along with 6,000 more seats.
Had the original plans for Hartwell Lake gone forward, Memorial Stadium would have been flooded up to the 26th row. Lengthy negotiations and the addition of dikes ensured the stadium’s survival.
More seats have been added over the years, with current capacity at more than 80,000. And just this summer, Yahoo Sports ranked Clemson as having the most exciting entrance in college football, referencing its designation by sportscaster Brent Musburger as “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”