It's not every day that UT's organizations and groups can participate in an activity on an equal playing field with each other.
On Wednesday, groups of students from all walks of life gathered at Thompson-Boling Arena to participate in and witness a school spirit competition. The event was called "Smokey's Howl," and it is held each year as part of homecoming week.
Groups performed cheers or skits, and were judged in four categories: adherence to theme, school spirit, creativity and execution. Teams were given two minutes to perform their routines.
Students formed competing groups with members of their choosing. While some teams were built with members of one particular group, others were made when multiple organizations joined forces to create a more diverse team. Other squads had no organizational ties.
In addition to the competition, the Miss Homecoming finalists made an appearance to raise the mood among an already elated crowd.
Many performances included elements such as tossing group members into the air, the singing of "Rocky Top," and the chanting of humorous lines designed to engage the audience's attention.
Students who participated were very lively and displayed a high level of UT pride; students who attended the event were equally exuberant.
Travis Crafton, freshman in accounting, and Yasin Kanakrieh, freshman in biological sciences, attended the event and said that it rejuvenated their UT spirit.
"Although my UT spirit is almost always at a one-hundred percent maximum, with all the cold weather we've been having and with finals starting to crank up, my school spirit was down to about ninety-eight percent," Crafton said. "This event reminded me how much fun and excitement cheering for my university can bring and brought me back up to one-hundred percent."
"This event definitely got me excited to cheer for the Vols again. All the teams were great. I especially enjoyed watching the sororities do their thing and perform their cheers. They seemed very organized and put together with their routines."
Wednesday's competition was a preliminary round, so students eager to witness an incredible display of UT pride through "Smokey's Howl" will have another opportunity to do so.
On Friday at 6 p.m., the "Smokey's Howl" finals will take place at Thompson-Boling Arena.
In addition to "Smokey's Howl," homecoming activities will continue throughout the rest of the week including a parade at 4 p.m. Friday that will travel east on Volunteer Boulevard from the Rock, and will culminate with UT's football team taking on the Troy Trojans at Neyland Stadium on Saturday at noon.