Texas A&M has been doing this for over 100 years. This is just the first time they’ve brought their mighty boom to bear against a hate group like Westboro Baptist.
Back in 1913, when A&M — which stands for Agricultural and Mechanical — was still an all-male military school, they held their first Yell Practice. Think of it as a pep rally, if A&M students could be cast as regular folk. But A&M students are not regular folk. They are Aggies. And Aggies can yell down anybody.
On the night before each home football game, an event called Midnight Yell takes place at the A&M football stadium. But it’s when the Aggies take that show on the road that things get fun. At midnight on the night before an away game, a Midnight Yell is held in or near the opponent’s city. Midnight Yells have been going on since 1932.
The yells that the Aggies throw down are pre-set roars. They are chosen and rehearsed beforehand. There are Five Students elected each year to serve as Yell Leaders. These Leaders put together new yells and organize the all-important Yell Practices.
One of these Yell Practices is what the Westboro Hate Group ran afoul of when they visited the A&M campus to spread their vitriol.
“Their moral compasses have been broken by their parents, their teachers and their preachers,” said a Westboro spokesman of the Aggies. "From the time they were born, they were taught lies such as God loves everybody, and it's okay to be gay, and it's okay to divorce your wife and remarry another one."
So Westboro came to wave their signs and show these kids the error of their ways. But when the Aggies decided to hold an impromptu Yell Practice, the Haters got an earful. About 100 students showed up a short distance from the picketers and held their prectice. Dozens of others marched near the Westboro folks with signs of their own:
Peace, Love and Gig em’ (a popular Aggie fight phrase)
God Hates No One
All You Need Is Love
“I’m in love with my Aggies, that we brought love and peace, and are doing this in a nice way,” said A&M Senior Meg Hale. "Love is the answer."
Yell Practice Organizer Elyssa De Caprio said, “Their message is just one of pure hate, and it’s not something we want people to listen to.”
This is what a typical Aggie Yell Practice is like: