17. Yell like Hell

Ashley Hunt

Yell Like Hell

Yell Like Hell is a newer tradition, but a favorite activity among many ISU students.

First established in 1963, Yell Like Hell gave residence halls an opportunity to submit an original yell. The yell was then judged on three categories: enthusiasm, originality and appropriateness. During the Homecoming pep rally, the five finalists would perform their yells again for the crowd.

This soon became an annual tradition and a favorite one as well.

Initially. the competition consisted of a 10 minute skit, a poetry reading and a cheer. The first years’ competitions were located behind the Armory.

The Yell Like Hell competition evolved in 1970 to have separate competitions for residence halls and Greek houses. The residence halls participation soon decreased enough that Yell Like Hell only had Greek houses competing.

The competition evolved and so did the yells. Yells went from one simple yell to a recitation of Iowa State’s fight song. The yells went under another transformation when the yells were skits that integrated superstitions, locations on campus and team rivalries.

The 1980s brought on another transformation for the competition. New judging categories were introduced. These categories included demonstrating school spirit and use of Iowa State’s cardinal and gold colors. This led to the current tradition of students painting themselves head to foot in cardinal and gold. 

In 2001, another category was introduced to the competition — improvisation. This category required students to integrate a word they were given into their skits just minutes before their performance.

In the following years, a stomp section has become part of the yells and skits, in which participants would clap, slap their thighs and participate in choreographed stomping combinations.

Today, Yell Like Hell is a complex combination of yells, chants, the Iowa State Fight Song and choreography. After three rounds of elimination and being judged on creativity, enthusiasm, movement precision, integration of the improvisation word, incorporating the year’s Homecoming theme, and yelling expression.

Awards for best overall performance, choreography, costumes and script are also given.

The pep rally provides the time and location for the final round of Yell Like Hell. The Friday night of Homecoming week, students–  both Greek and non-Greek — alumni and members of the community gather to watch the finalists compete and to enjoy the display of Cyclone spirit.

This tradition is unique to Iowa State and an exciting way for the crowd to be a part of the spirit and enthusiastic nature of Cyclone Homecomings.