By by Gisel Alvarez, Photography Editor
Sixty Years Of Travis Traditions Still Offer Unity
"Once a Rebel, Always a Rebel"
September 3, 2017
In 1953, when William B. Travis High School opened its doors, Rebel traditions were birthed, and over the years, have unified the Travis community and defined what it means to be, “Once A Rebel, Always A Rebel.”
“Rebels True,” echoes from bleachers as the football team congregates in the middle of the field. Students, parents, faculty and fans alike interlock pinkies and sing.
A spirit of unity… The Rebelettes, cheerleaders, football team, color guard, JROTC and band make their way to the buses after the game to travel back to Travis.
On the band bus, indistinct chatter fills the air as members ready themselves for the tradition of silence.
A single voice stands out, “Hey band!”
“Hey what,” the band says.
This begins the silence as the bus crosses the IH 35 bridge over the Colorado river, signifying a safe return back to Travis territory.
Joe Estrada, Travis class of ‘17 and drum captain, passed this tradition down in his final year at Travis.
“Passing down traditions creates a sense of school spirit, connection and heart; it reminds alumni of the time they spent at Travis,” he said.
Traditions make alumni feel part of the school’s history, he said.
“Battle of the Bell” is the biggest,” Estrada said.
For Travis-McCallum, one of its oldest traditions is Battle of the Bell. The inaugural battle was played November 25, 1953, the same year AISD opened both high schools. McCallum emerged, winning the traveling trophy, 21-20.
The Austin-American Statesman coined the battle a “Civil War” between Austin’s southern-most and northern-most school.
Battle of the Bell began in 1953, creating a rivalry between Mccallum and Travis that still stands today.
The story goes that the football teams decided to play for a prize. At the time it was a 500-pound locomotive bell from a train. The history goes that the winner gets to keep it for an entire school year until the next game, and as the tradition continues, they engrave the scores of each game on the side.
Ty Davidson, principal of Travis high school, still remembers his first year at Travis as Travis won the bell for the first time in several years. The team did not have a way to transport the bell back to the campus, so Davidson and members of the football team placed the bell in his truck and he drove it back to the Travis campus.
“As I drove back to Travis, with the bell in the bed of my pickup, I rang that bell all the way to the school…because the tradition is that it can only ring until midnight,’ he said. “It was a memorable year.”
Along with Battle of the Bell, Travis is home to many other traditions; ones that have remained in the minds of teachers and former students at Travis high school.
Brenda Rodriguez, Travis class of ‘89 and SPED department secretary said pep-rallies were her favorite. They occurred for every football game during the season.
“Game-day pep rallies were big,” she said. “Pep rallies is where all school spirit came from.”
Lisa Gutierrez, Travis class of ‘95 and current Travis teacher said that pep rallies were her favorite too.
“They were what unified the student body and created a spirit of pride that pumped up the football players,” she said. “It was probably the one most important thing about Travis back then.”
Some new traditions have been started the last 10 years.
Drew McGarrahan, Travis class of ‘09 and math teacher and coach, said when he played football at Travis, his favorite tradition was the lighting of the Travis tower red after football wins.
Other traditions like Travis Rebel Expo, The Tamalada and Peace Through Pie are open for participation by local community members. Davidson said that traditions help to maintain a sense of family.
“It’s a belief, or an action done by the entire school community that embodies what our values and beliefs are,” Davidson said. “I consider our school a huge family that relies on the traditions, not only set before us, but those that are currently here and those for the future.”