The Spider Spirit, a Century Ago
The Spider spirit is more easily felt than defined. You can "hear the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it comes nor whither it goes." It is more than a sound it is an atmosphere which envelopes, a spirit which moves upon the expanse, a life which throbs and thrills.
The manifestations of this indefinable "something" are manifold. It throws its spell over the lowly "Rat" and gives him a feeling upon leaving college, at the end of the first session, akin to that which choked him when he babe good-bye to the "home-folks" and started to college. It hallows the halls and walks and fields and lake, so that they become sacred in his memory. It causes the bosom of the most indifferent student to swell with pride at the mention of "Spider." It binds the graduates with cords that lengthen and strengthen and draws them across distances to athletic contests and to the Commencements.
The value of this spirit is beyond calculation. A modern college without endowment is an impossibility, but college spirit is worth more than endowment. It will raise endowment, and what is more, it will secure and hold students.
Athletics are indispensable to college life, but "Spider Spirit" is the source and support of athletics. College publications and press reports are influential agencies for advertising the college, but they do not compare with college spirit. More valuable than any or all of these is that contagious enthusiasm for the college which immediately transforms an acquaintance into a friend forever.
It was Spider spirit that sent more Richmond College students to the Williamsburg game than there were in attendance at William and Mary, and that wrenched victory from their determined team, in the last half of the game. This same spirit conquered Hampden-Sidney at Farmville, and again on Broad Street triumphed over the same team (supported by the Eastern Athletic Association as substitutes). The lack of this spirit handed Randolph-Macon one game on a silver waiter, but the return of that unconquerable spirit in the second game, sang their funeral dirge to the tune of "Lead Kindly Light."
"Poor Randolph-Macon will lose this game to-day—
The undertakers are here to take away
The Spider's bite is dangerous to-day,
Poor Ashland team, we are so sorry,
Poor Randolph-Macon. Amen!!"
Spider Spirit says: "In the class-room, scholarship shall be rewarded; m societies, ability shall be honored; in athletics, merit shall have the preference; in all college life, character shall have the pre-eminence."
Until recently this comment was current, "Richmond College lacks College Spirit." The justice of that criticism had to be admitted. In explanation thereof, it was said that we had no athletic field; that the college was over-shadowed by a great city; that there was, in fact, no separate and distinctive college life. The removal to Westhampton destroyed these extenuating circumstances, and, even better, it removed the necessity for an apology. The college became a community in itself. Ample grounds and modern buildings give the impression of strength and permanence. Students no longer stroll down the street after lunch- they roam the woods or go to the stadium. After supper, they do not now resort, as formerly, in large numbers, to moving pictures and other forms of amusements, but rather they repair to their rooms for study. As a result, one sees twice as many lights burning in the dormitories now, as when the college was in the city. A change of environment has wrought wonders in college life.
Give the buoyant spirit of the present student body full scope for rightful sway, and it will materially aid the college in achieving its high destiny.
GEORGE W. McDANIEL, D. D.
(From the 1915 yearbook, The Spider)