A History Lesson of the Checkerboard
The iconic checkerboard end zones at the University of Tennessee have become a symbol of pride, tradition, and college football excellence. These striking orange and white squares hold a unique place in the hearts of fans. But how did this tradition come to be, and what does it signify for the Volunteers?
While the university's color hues were chosen in the late 1800s, the checkerboard end zones weren't debuted until the mid-1960s. Coach Douglas Dickey stumbled upon the design in a magazine and was adamant about their unveiling at the 1964 Boston College game. The pattern was an instant hit among fans, adding excitement and anticipation to games and quickly becoming synonymous with Tennessee football. While checkering end zones were nothing new, the pop of orange was a unique and fresh addition to the SEC.
Over the years, the checkerboard has evolved to represent more than just an interesting design. It symbolizes the university's rich history, the team's determination, and the pursuit of victory. Fans have embraced it wholeheartedly, using it to unify and showcase their school spirit on banners, hats, and apparel.
In 2015, the University of Tennessee celebrated the 50th anniversary of the checkerboard end zones. To commemorate this milestone, a special logo featuring the checkerboard pattern was unveiled. This logo served as a powerful reminder of the tradition's significance in the university's history and its enduring connection to the Volunteer community.
Ultimately, the checkerboard end zones at the University of Tennessee are more than just a visually striking spectacle; they are a symbol of tradition, pride, and the unwavering spirit of Volunteer football. These squares remind us of the university's football heritage and the unwavering support of the Tennessee faithful.
In 2012, Volunteer Traditions was invited to work on UT apparel with both creative and licensing rights. While we are here to create unique takes on classic designs, we also feel a certain loyalty to the classic and iconic squares that make up our historical checkerboard pattern.
You can check out our entire line of officially licensed checkerboard apparel here!