In the early 1930s, ahead of the annual game against SMU, a freshman class in the Corps of Cadets was the first group to don “fish spurs” in an effort to help the Aggies “spur the ponies”.
Though the Texas A&M football team no longer regularly plays SMU, current freshmen in the Corps carry on the tradition by wearing their fish spurs ahead of the Southwest Classic game versus Arkansas in Arlington.
The weekend before the game, freshmen in each unit in the Corps gather as a buddy class to begin the lengthy process of designing their spurs.
“Making fish spurs is a multi-step process that requires a lot of teamwork among each buddy class. After obtaining nearly 700 bottle caps and 28 hangers, the first step is to flatten each individual bottle cap with a hammer or tool of choice, and use a nail to make a hole in the center of each cap. A few hours and multiple bruises later, you spray paint your bottle caps. To make the base of the spurs, you use pliers to shape a hanger around your low quarters, with a hook to allow easy removal, and then shape the top mount for your bottle caps. When the bottle caps are completed, they are threaded onto the hanger, and the hanger is bent to ensure they will not fall off,” Madison Cronin ‘26, Company A-1, said.
Madison described how each unit in the Corps designs their fish spurs in their own unique ways.
“Company A-1 specifically makes each bottle cap green, the Class of 2026’s class color, on one side and white on the other, with a green middle. Each bottle cap has ‘26 written 26 times per cap. The mounts for our bottle caps are vertical instead of horizontal and the tops of our spurs form an A-1.”
“The thing I am looking forward to the most this upcoming weekend is beating the hell outta Arkansas with my buddies by my side”
When describing Company C-2’s take on fish spurs, Liam Stevens ‘23, a current member of Company G-2, described another unique take on the tradition.
“I was a fish in C-2, and there the upperclassmen give the fish blank butterflies for their spurs. There are certain things the fish write on each piece, and on the last piece you write a nickname your buddies gave you. I felt like the coolest fish on campus, wearing spurs with butterflies while everyone else had theirs held together with just coat hangers.”
As a senior looking back on his own fish spurs experience, Dan Koch ‘23, Squadron 11, recalled fond memories of the bonding experience.
“I really enjoyed the process of making them as a fish. Working with my buddies to try and make a cool design, figuring out who was getting what, and then getting to spend some quality time together while making them was a really good memory. One of my favorite parts of the tradition is wildcatting from the dorm to the arches and sounding off if the spurs fall off.”
As this 90 year old tradition carries on throughout the years, the goal at the end of the week remains the same for every member of the Corps.
“The thing I am looking forward to the most this upcoming weekend is beating the hell outta Arkansas with my buddies by my side,” Madison said with a smile.
The next time you hear the melodic chime of fish spurs on campus, know that it's just the Keepers of The Spirit and The Guardians of Tradition keeping a good bull tradition alive.
Story By: Robin Nelson '22