The Rock Chalk Chant
The Rock Chalk Chant is perhaps the most distinctive cheer in all of college sports. Some have likened it to a Gregorian chant, but anyone who has been in Allen Fieldhouse and heard the chant start low, then build and roll over the crowd knows that it is much, much more.
The "Rock Chalk" chant dates to 1866, when it was adopted by the University Science Club. A chemistry professor, E.H.S. Bailey and some of his associates were returning to Lawrence from Wichita on a train. As the story goes, they passed the time by trying to create a rousing cheer. The sound of the train's wheels on the rails suggested a rhythm and a cadence to them. At first, the cheer was "Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU" repeated three times.
Even though KU didn't have a football team until four years later, KU students quickly took up the chant. Later, an English professor suggested "Rock Chalk," in place of "Rah, Rah" because it rhymed with Jayhawk and because it was symbolic of the limestone, also known as chalk rock, surrounding Mount Oread, the site of the Lawrence Campus. It became the official cheer of the University in 1897.
Teddy Roosevelt pronounced the Rock Chalk Chant the greatest college chant he'd ever heard. It was used by Kansas troops fighting in the Philippines in 1899, the Boxer Rebellion in China, and World War II. At the Olympic games in 1920, the King of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell. The assembled athletes agreed on KU's Rock Chalk and rendered it for His Majesty.
The words to the chant are simple. "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU" repeated five times. The chant is special not because of the words, but because of the tone in which it is chanted and the distinctive cadence in which each verse is delivered. The only way to really appreciate the chant is to sit in Allen Fieldhouse before a Missouri game. But, if in need of a fix, the links below should recall the rocking rafters of Phog's place.
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