Sun Devil Welcome a night of sights, sounds and inspiration

ASU President Michael Crow tells incoming students: 'Find things that make you smile'

Crowd of students in gold t-shirts at Sun Devil Welcome

The gates to Sun Devil Stadium opened at 6:30 p.m. and here they came.

They wore gold Sun Devil first-year T-shirts and quickly walked down the aisles to get their seats on the west side of the stadium, facing the stage. They were loud and boisterous, and you would have thought they were getting ready to party.

In a sense, they were.

Sun Devil Welcome is not just an introduction to incoming students about what it means to be a Sun Devil. It’s a loud and proud celebration, full of sights and sounds and, on Tuesday, was followed by a concert by the alternative rock band Wallows.

The music started blaring from the loudspeakers at 6:28 p.m. It was 101 degrees but that didn’t seem to bother a soul. By 6:45 p.m., the sections directly in front of the stage were nearly full, and if you didn’t know any better you might have thought an ASU football game was about to break out.

Talk about setting a mood.

“There are so many people,” one student said as he headed to his seat. “I can’t believe this.”

A few minutes before 7 p.m., the lights situated on the east end of the field began flashing. A video about ASU played on the large screens, extolling, through the voices of leaders, faculty and students, the virtues of the university.

Then, after students stood and swayed their arms back and forth to Rascal Flatts’ "Life Is A Highway," members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority performed a dance, Saturday’s Echo from the Buttes event was promoted (where students will paint the “A” on Tempe Butte white), and athletes from some of ASU’s 26 varsity sports invited students to attend games and introduced highlights from the past several seasons of Sun Devil athletics.

Every few minutes, host Brian Askins, a fourth-year student majoring in elementary education, interviewed new students. One group of three students took part in a trivia contest and had to answer this question: How many years in a row has ASU been named No. 1 in innovation by U.S. News and World Report?

The choices: Five, six or seven.

The answer: Seven. (They got it right.)

The night also included a dance number from the Bollywood Fusion dance team Andaaz; students’ tweets were featured on a big screen at the south end of the stadium; and remarks from ASU’s four campus student body presidents were given.

Just after 8 p.m., ASU President Michael Crow and Provost Nancy Gonzalez took the stage, and students from each college were asked to stand up and make some noise.

Crow, in what he termed the “serious part of the show,” asked students to think about why they came to ASU, what their objective is and what kind of person they want to be.

“If you’re trying to figure out what you want to do, don’t be overly worried,” Crow said. “Find things that make you smile the most while you’re learning. Find things that make you the most excited.”

As music once again blasted from the loudspeakers, members of ASU’s Spirit Squad and Sun Devil Marching band made their entrance. The lights went down, the noise went up and Sparky appeared on the video screens, marching through Tempe on the way to Sun Devil Stadium. The band then taught the first-year students some game-night traditions, including the Pitchfork sign and the words to the fight song.

At 8:45 p.m., as fireworks exploded into the sky, the stage emptied. The concert was about to begin. So is the school year.

Welcome, Sun Devils.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU News

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