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ASU freshman class gets forceful welcome

Sun Devil Welcome rally introduces first-year students to fight song, pitchfork and learning to learn for life

Sun Devil Welcome

August 16, 2016

Before four years of serious study, the Class of 2020 kicked off their Arizona State University experience with a maroon and gold explosion of yells, chants, drums, horns, glow sticks and forked fingers.

Bands, streamers, dancers and speakers amped up the traditional Sun Devil Welcome on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, echoed back by the roar of about 11,500 freshmen, the largest incoming class in ASU history.

Properly flashing a pitchfork, learning to jingle keys at kickoff and singing the fight song were all part of an hourlong Sun Devil boot camp.

“Being a Sun Devil means cheering your heart out when someone scores a touchdown...” said Ryan O’Hara, Polytechnic campus student government president. “Study hard. Sit in the front row. Get to know your professor outside of class.

“Forks up! Give ’em hell, Devils! Welcome, Class of 2020!”

University President Michael Crow welcomed the freshmen, who hail from 74 countries and all 50 states.

“You are special Millennials,” Crow said. “You are, which means you have never lived without the internet.”

Crow said the university’s intent is to create a place where students learn how to learn. They will face a world more complex than ever faced by anyone before them, he said.

“The reason for the size of the institution, the scale of the institution, is so each and every one of you can follow your own path,” Crow said. “We will prepare you for that. … You will be in a learning modality for your entire life.”

A video of a Godzilla-size Sparky stomping across the Valley to the thundering bass of AC/DC drew huge cheers, especially when he crushed a bus with the University of Arizona logo on the roof before entering his namesake stadium and impaling the turf with a flaming pitchfork.

Ray Anderson, vice president of university athletics, said the 24 varsity teams need all the support they can get.

“I want you to understand how vital you are on game day,” Anderson said. “Bring the heat when you get out there.”

Jim Hudson, ASU director of athletic bands, introduced Sparky in the flesh with a rousing band performance heavy on the bass.

“We have the best mascot in the country,” Hudson declared. “Who would want to be a duck?”

“On Fridays we wear gold,” Hudson said. “We need you in the house to make it our house.”

And, in a sea of gold T-shirts, they walked out of the arena and into four of the most important years of their lives.

“I liked it,” said Erika Nanney, who is majoring in digital culture. “I liked the energy.”

Future engineers from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering show their spirit at the Sun Devil Welcome at Wells Fargo Arena on Tuesday evening. Members of the Class of 2020 caught the Sun Devil spirit, practiced the school's fight song and heard about the purpose of ASU from President Michael Crow. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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