By Pat Edwards
Ramblin' Reck Club
The Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. The name stands as one of the beloved nicknames that loyal members of the Tech community have come to be known. But what is interesting is that its origins, that lie well into the last century, have even less to do with the yellow jacket insect, than with Auburn University!
It was Fall of 1891 and Tech, with no football team, was asked by the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn University) to attend their football contest with the farmboys of Athens. The match was played in Cowtown that year, and Alabama Polytech wanted to swell the stands on their side of the field with supporters, fearing a low turnout for the game given the distance of Athens from the Plainsmen's hometown of Auburn.
The Tech student body met on the subject, and decided to accept the invitation to attend the event and cheer against Athens. Their decision thereby founding half of the adage concerning Tech fan loyalty, that states that a Tech fan has two teams: Tech, and whoever is playing Georgia.
The Tech students, however, felt that they should still keep their own collegiate identity, so the decision was made to select colors that the Tech students would wear, as well as a series of cheers for the game, that would indicate their true loyalties. So when the Tech students went to cheer the Alabama Polytechnic team to victory over `UGAly', they did so wearing Gold and White.
In the next year, 1892, Tech fielded her first football team. In that first year Tech, coached by the professor Earnest West, an alumnus of Annapolis, played Mercer, Vanderbilt, and Auburn, but scored only 10 points the whole season against the fifty-eight points scored against them. Tech didn't win a game until 1893 when she first played Georgia in Athens, winning 28-6.
During this first Tech-Georgia game the tradition of the Gold and White, or as it was quickly being specified as Old Gold and White, was entrenched by the ladies of the Lucy Cobb Institute for Girls. These ladies, who came from Atlanta to support the Tech team, were mentioned in an Atlanta Constitution article of November 5, 1893 as all wearing white and gold. (In an aside, the train carrying them back to Atlanta was wrecked when it struck a freight train head on in Clarkston. The Constitution article described the Tech players as having been "rocked and threatened", but there were no casualties.)
It was later, after the turn of the century, that the Atlanta newspapers first began to associate the Tech students with their chosen school colors. Tech fans, who have always dressed well for their games, frequently wore gold or yellow jackets or sports coats to show their school spirit. The newspapers, observing the popularity of the bright colored attire, invented our nickname by referring to the fans as "yellow jackets". The name stuck, despite changing fashion, and Tech students have kept the name ever since.
Buzz, however, came some time later. Really, the earlier manifestations were very much insect, and not the least cute. The early yellow jacket art was either more bee-like, with a round body and a long stinger nose, or a more realistic yellow jacket, that was in flight with a thinner body and long, gangly legs.
The title of Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech has been a pseudonym that the Tech community has enjoyed for most of the Institute's existence. The place of Buzz in that name is shared with Auburn U., a women's finishing school and the Atlanta rags, but still stands for one thing: the community that makes up Georgia Tech.
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