Aggies don't cheer. They yell.
Instead of the cheerleaders seen at most other universities, Texas A&M is known for the few, but iconic, male students donning all-white attire, signaling what might be the most organized crowd in all of sports to yell in unison. The result of this is one of the most powerful home-field advantages in college sports. These students are know as yell leaders, and their role at Texas A&M has reached a near-celebrity level of prominence.
Fitting with a school that was founded as an all-male military college, there has never been a female yell leader to direct the passionate crowd at an A&M sporting event. The student body of A&M elects its yell leaders each year. In recent history, the Corps of Cadets-backed group "5 For Yell" has nominated the standard two sophomore students and three junior students to run for the yell leader positions. Being associated with the Corps means the "5 for Yell" candidates are usually elected.
Several female students have run throughout the years, with the greatest success coming in 2012 when junior student Samantha Ketcham made it to a runoff. In that case, the votes were found to be miscounted and Ketcham was relegated to the list of women who tried, but failed. Of the 15 candidates running this year, there were two women vying for the chance to make Aggie history.
Juniors Kaitlyn McCain and Viona Vraniqi both took their shot, and both ultimately came up short, losing to the "5 for Yell" candidates who swept the elections. Although the tradition wasn't changed this year, The Eagle followed McCain as she attempted to make her mark on Texas A&M history.
McCain is a junior early childhood education major and a first-generation college student who spent her last two years of school battling depression.
She, in part, attributed the camaraderie at A&M events to helping her overcoming depression and she felt becoming a yell leader would be the ideal way to give back to a community that gave her so much.