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If you’ve ever sat behind the ROC (BYU’s student section) at a football or basketball game, you may be familiar with the tradition of standing for the entire game and enthusiastic cheering for even the smallest advancement. To those sitting behind the ROC, the behavior can get tiring, especially when the game isn’t going well for the cougars.

Speaking from experience Matthew O. Richardson, BYU’s Advancement Vice President, recalled a time when he sat behind the ROC and was baffled at how the students could still sing the school fight song so enthusiastically as the team struggled to pull off a win.

Speaking to a group of Knight Society members (those who have included BYU in their estate planning) at their annual luncheon, Richardson shared the lyrics of the fight song and the history behind its creation.

Clyde D. Sandgren originally wrote the song, first known as “The Cougar Song,” in 1947. It wasn’t originally written for athletic events or as a school song but rather to commemorate all the BYU students who valiantly served their country in World War II.

“The song was about the character of BYU students who carried on when they were called upon to do difficult things,” Richardson said. “Especially in the first verse.”

The first line of the song “Rise all loyal Cougars and hurl your challenge to the foe” seemed applicable to Richardson as he related the criticism and opposition the university regularly receives for trying to combine secular and sacred learning.

“A lot of people say it can’t be done, but we are not afraid to hurl our challenge.”

Richardson continued to reference the song, citing the need to be “loyal, strong and true” in all circumstances, “rain or snow,” in order to be “set to spring” into action.

“In a day and age when it seems like the most popular group is the group that’s winning the most, we will wear the colors and stay true no matter what the environment around us,” Richardson said. “When we start to look at these hard experiences and say ‘give me something to cheer about,’ we already have much to cheer about.”  

The Jesse and Amanda Knight Society is open to any donor who has named BYU in a deferred gift such as a BYU retirement account, a will, a life insurance policy, a gift annuity or a trust. There are more than 1,000 current Knight Society members including current and retired BYU employees.

Find out how you can join the Knight Society at or contact LDS Philanthropies (801-356-5251 or