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Beloit’s history of fight songs

September 22, 2018
By Meg Kulikowski'21

Beloiter Days 2017During homecoming season, Beloiters of days past sang songs to lift the spirits of football players and their fans. A tradition that swept through universities across the country, singing school fight songs was a frequent occurrence on campus, with lyrics known by the majority of students. Beloit College founder Stephen Peet once wrote, “College songs certainly break the chain of hard study and give liberty to the youthful spirit.” Some songs celebrated football, including the names of players: “Ole Olsen” and “Yonny Yonson” were players from the 1930s-recorded “Athletic Pep Song.” Other, more serious songs celebrated young love, athleticism, and victory. “Domine Salvam Fac” is one of few songs that continue to be sung today at ceremonies like Commencement.

Beloiters erupted in cheers and the “college yell” after President Edward Eaton announced that a mysterious benefactor (who turns out to be D.K. Pearsons) donated $5 million to the college for a student center in the 1890s -- that building became known as Pearsons Hall. Eaton himself wrote a song celebrated by Beloiters, as well as James Blaisdell and many other notable alumni.Various student groups on campus wrote and performed their own Beloit songs, or celebrated popular songs of the day. The Widmer Choraliers choral group started in 1952. Its origins lie in the TKE fraternity, but its popularity expanded over its seven-year history. Named after its director, Rich Widmer’53, the singers recorded traditional songs, as well as comic songs and parodies.

Fight songs remained popular at Beloit the through the late years of the 20th century. Esteemed Beloit professor Tom McBride penned “Oh Beloit” in 1987, reminiscing the quirky students of the ‘80s, as well as the campus’ “breezy cheese” smell coming from a factory nearby. But after that, the fight song began to fade into distant memory. To preserve these odes to Beloit, here’s a few highlights of Beloit’s most memorable songs.

  • “Alma Mater Alumnis” words by W.F. Brown, class of 1850, music by W.B. Olds, class of 1898
    • Illustrates “trembling hearts” of students as they enter a new time in their lives
    • In the bad times, Beloit (a woman) will be there for you and will allow you to work anywhere or do anything
    • Students receive flowers from Beloit to symbolize bravery (a rose), victory (an olive leaf), and crowned eternity (palms of peace)
  • “Oh, Beloit” words and music by Tom McBride, copyright 1987
    • Describes Beloit students’ diversity, desire for truth, and respect for thinking free
  • “Here’s to Old Beloit” words and music by Samuel Kidder, class of 1873
    • Emphasizes the strength, fervor, and unique experiences of its students
    • Encourages Beloiters to remember the “sunshine hues”
  • “Marching Song” Ferderick W. Warner, class of 1912
    • Beloit is “the team that never fails” and seeks victory in the game

Make sure to sing your favorite song at the Homecoming games this weekend!