It started as a simple action, a small gesture of readiness, enthusiasm and service. But E. King Gill couldn’t have known that his actions on Jan. 2, 1922, would lead to the university he loved —Texas A&M — embracing those qualities and forever being known as the Home of the 12th Man.
To honor the spirit of the 12th Man, the willingness to serve and the unity that permeates the Aggie family, Texas A&M will showcase 12 significant impacts that Texas A&M students, former students, faculty and staff have had on the world throughout 2012 — the year of the 12th Man.
Each month, through its “12 Impacts For 2012” series, the university will use stories, social media, images, video and more to feature a different industry or area that Texas A&M has helped or is currently working to redefine, showing that the impact of Aggies spans communities, countries and continents.
The 12th Man tradition that Gill started has helped shape the face of the university. It began at the 1922 Dixie Classic: Texas A&M was playing Centre College, and by the end of the first half, the Aggies had suffered so many injuries that they were down to only 11 players. Coach Dana X. Bible called upon E. King Gill, a former football player who was now only playing basketball. Gill suited up and stood ready to play for the rest of the game. When the game ended — Texas A&M pulled out a 22-14 victory — Gill was the only man left standing on the Aggies’ sideline. Later, Gill said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”
Gill’s willingness to serve his team has passed down from generation to generation of Aggies, as the Texas A&M student body stands together during entire football games, a symbol of the 12th Man on the team.
But the power of the 12th Man extends far beyond a playing field — it is echoed in Texas A&M’s land-grant heritage, in the student body, in the unity, the loyalty and the willingness of Aggies to serve when called to do so. It is a trait that becomes part of the character of all Aggies, staying with them long after they leave the university.
An iconic statue of Gill may stand permanently outside of Kyle Field in College Station, but the 12th Man’s spirit lives on throughout the world. By embodying the 12th Man, Aggies have changed the world around them. They have shaped policy, made groundbreaking discoveries, revolutionized entire industries, and explored every corner of the globe, even blasting into space and venturing onto other planets.
The journey of the 12th Man starts at Texas A&M, but much like Gill’s legacy, it lives on to help Aggies create a better world for their fellow man.
12 Impacts of the 12th Man shows how the 12th Man is impacting the world. More than athletics, the Spirit of the 12th Man embodies all of Texas A&M. We are all the 12th Man.