Spirit of the times
By Harry Maier ’51
For thousands of Green Knights, the college’s chevalier mascot has been the personification of school spirit. In his shining armor, the Knight himself has presided over many of the events which have shaped St. Norbert’s collective memory over more than 100 years.
College life comes down to a collection of many occasions over a four-year period, says
John Ryan ’73. He views school spirit as “sharing the enthusiasm of an event.” For his class, he remembers, it was joining in the
homecoming celebrations that lit up their school spirit.
“We had an all-student gathering for a pep fest in front of Main Hall,” he says. “It was an opportunity to share as a student body the thrill of activities that led up to the weekend.”
Patrick Cantwell ’99 identifies with school spirit two ways, as a one-time student and a member of the football team.
The size of the College was a major factor in developing a closeness among the student body, he says.
“We all knew each other, walking around campus. There always was a ‘hello’ from another student or faculty member.”
Events like homecoming and winter carnival got all involved, Cantwell adds. Students who were drawn to the school because of its character as a smaller liberal arts college were ready to enjoy its sense of community. “We were close to this school because it had the right environment.”
Tammy Evers ’02 now lives in Madison but, she says, “The spirit we had in our days at St. Norbert continues today. School is where I met some of my best friends.
“Many of us love reminiscing over our college days, we love to return to St. Norbert and visit and take strolls through the campus and talk about the old times.”
Many of her classmates say they can’t imagine not having attended St. Norbert. “There’s something about the school that just draws you in. That’s the kind of school spirit that continues today.”
Festivities that involve the whole College community, like homecoming, probably offer the biggest outward show of school spirit today, Evers thinks.
Eugene Walsh ’53 already has his reservations for another trip from his home in Melbourne, Fla., to this year’s homecoming celebrations. Looking back on his St. Norbert career, he reflects, “The spirit of St. Norbert College was developed in the students by our teachers. They instilled in us the principles of leadership, integrity and the love of God and country.
“The graduates have continued to display this aura by excelling in their selected professional and family endeavors.”
Each generation forges its own experience.
Mary Ellen Hayes ’51 remembers a quieter era: “We didn’t have the ‘rah, rah’ spirit that students are expecting today. It was a quiet, deeper environment, one that was very stable.”
One of the first coeds to attend St. Norbert, Hayes enrolled with a class of “almost all ex-GIs,” men who had served during World War II.
“It was an interesting time. Their perspectives were very different; they knew what they were doing and why they were there,” she said. “They were there to get their degree and get on with their lives.”
Hayes describes her classmates as men who were older, some already married with families. All the classmates knew each other and connections ran deep.
“Being a liberal arts college, the sense of philosophy was very strong. It was important to [the students], it gave them additional strength which carried through in the later years of their lives.” Hayes said. “Everyone loved this school.”