Through The Eyes of a Tiger
The Athlete's Perspective of Tiger Walk
Tradition. Auburn University prides itself on the strong values and rituals created by those who’ve come before us. This is a community whose values are put on display in the Auburn Creed and whose Saturdays revolve around the schedule of our football team. In many ways, Auburn is the epitome of true southern culture.
Many who have never even set foot in Auburn still know about how the eagle flies the stadium before every home football game; how the Auburn faithful roll the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner after a glorious win in Jordan-Hare; or even how we have a nine-time national champion mascot, Aubie the Tiger. Auburn University upholds many beautiful traditions, but there is one that touched my heart the very first game day of this 2016 football season: Tiger Walk.
Every game day, two hours before kickoff, the team walks from the Athletics Complex down Donahue Drive to Jordan-Hare Stadium while swarms of fans cheer them on. I’ve been at Auburn for four years, so I know it sounds a little crazy that I’ve never gone. I always had a reason not to go; I wasn’t finished getting ready, or the huge crowd made it impossible to even get to the front. Sometimes, even just the thought of “everyone else is going to be there, so they don’t need me too,” kept me away. But man, was I wrong.
This game day was different. Two of my friends dragged me along, and we even got there thirty minutes early. In the minutes before the team began their trek toward the stadium, I was awe-struck by the atmosphere. Thousands of Auburn fans lined the street in a sea of orange and blue. It was electric.
Suddenly, the steady chatter of the crowd grew to a collective roar as the football team made its way through. Many fans took photos and videos, others high-fived the players and wished them luck, and I simply took in the moment. I had just two words on my mind: Auburn family. It was incredible to see the love shown to the players. The best part? Whether they win or lose, thousands of fans will still be supporting them at the next Tiger Walk — and the one after that —because that’s what the Auburn family does.
Afterward, I was curious. What does the experience feel like for the players? I sat down with Auburn newcomers: freshman wide receiver Kyle Davis and transfer quarterback John Franklin III, to talk about what Tiger Walk and Auburn tradition means to them.
BW: How did you feel when you exited the bus and saw all of the fans?
Kyle Davis: It’s one thing watching Tiger Walk as a recruit, but it’s completely different to be in it. People you don’t even know come from all over just to shake your hand. It’s pretty cool.
John Franklin III: Well, on the bus ride from the hotel, I was just getting in my zone, really. When we actually got to Tiger Walk, I flipped the switch and got so much more hyped and ready to go play in front of all those people.
BW: With this being the first time both of you have really experienced Tiger Walk, did it live up to all the hype?
Kyle Davis: Absolutely.
John Franklin III: Honestly, it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Since I got here in January, all of my teammates would tell me how fun Tiger Walk was, but doing it for the first time really had me ready to go out there and play in front of all those supporting fans.
BW: Does witnessing that kind of support from the Auburn community make you want to win even more for Auburn fans?
Kyle Davis: Definitely. They travel from all over to watch us play every weekend, so giving it our all is the least we can do.
John Franklin III: There’s never a time you want to lose or go out there and not give your best, but seeing how much support you have just by walking to the locker room gives you a little extra incentive to go that much harder.
BW: Auburn University has so many traditions, Tiger Walk being one of them, but what do Auburn tradition and Auburn family mean to you?
Kyle Davis: I’m big on keeping a routine, so the tradition part for me means a lot because it’s one thing that’s constant as an Auburn football player, and I know that Auburn traditions aren’t going to change.
The Auburn family is watching me grow as an athlete and a person while I’m here, and they’re always right there picking me up and encouraging me to keep going whenever I want to stop. They give me hope.
John Franklin III: Auburn tradition to me means that if you work hard, you will succeed. We work hard for everything and get the things we deserve, and because of that hard work, success is the expected outcome.
The Auburn family is so real in my opinion. Through good or bad, the Auburn family sticks together and never stops believing. That’s why I love the fans because they’re loyal and believe in us no matter what the outcome.
Everyone knows how much we Auburn fans love our traditions, but it’s good to know that the athletes are just as thankful for traditions like Tiger Walk — and for the Auburn family that keeps them going every step of the way.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Jack P.