SDSU ‘Fight Song’ turns 85 this year

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Ivan Guzman

SDSU’s marching band practicing the “Fight Song” on field PG620.

Jayne Yutig

by Jayne Yutig, Assistant Multimedia Editor

The Marching Aztecs have returned to the field, just in time for the 85th anniversary of the San Diego State “Fight Song.”

The classic song has been hyping up fans and athletes since it debuted at Freshman Prom in 1936. The Marching Aztecs spirits are high and their triumphant return after the pandemic proves that Mighty Montezuma will win again. Even if it’s in Carson, California.

According to SDSU Athletic Bands Director Coach Bryan Ransom, in 1936, SDSU President Walter Hepner asked a junior music student to write a new “Fight Song.” Frank Losey, served as volunteer director of bands and wrote the fight song at his parent’s dinner table.

“It means a great deal,” Ransom said. “The song just means so much. Every time you hear it, it brings back good memories from the past and memories for the future.” 

Over the course of eight decades, the “Fight Song” arrangement has only been changed twice.

Marching Aztecs perform before game in Carson, California.
Jayne Yutig

Ransom said the most recent adjustment to the arrangement was in the early 2000’s. 

The lyrics to the fight song were changed in 1975. But the lyrics were changed again in 2011 after Associate Athletics Director Jenny Bramer asked Ransom to make the lyrics more inclusive. 

The lyrics, “Fight on and on ye Aztec men, Sons of Montezuma,” were changed to “Fight on and on ye Aztecs, then Mighty Montezuma,” according to Ransom. After the change, SDSU Women’s Athletics joined the men in the tradition of singing the Fight Song after wins.

The only constant for SDSU in the span of 85 years is tradition. One of Ransom’s favorite memories from his 30-year career with the band was created by SDSU Football Head Coach Brady Hoke. 

“When Coach Hoke was here the first time, he was the one who started bringing the team over to the band to sing the ‘Fight Song’ after a win,” Ransom said. “When he brought the team over for the first time, I thought ‘man, that’s such a great tradition.’”

Ransom has been coaching the Marching Aztecs since 1988 and he said this year everything is different. The band was sidelined for a year when sports were halted and phased back due to the pandemic.

“It was a rough year. For everybody. Seeing football happening and basketball happening without us being there was tough,” Ransom said.

Now that Aztec Football is back with fans in attendance, the band has to navigate COVID protocols and a two-hour bus ride to Carson. 

Jayne Yutig

“There’s so much more to do and think about. It’s changed the way I approach rehearsals and game day, to some degree. It’s going to continue on after this pandemic is over, in a good way,” Ransom said.

This season, the Marching Aztecs has an approximately 200-person team that includes the SDSU band, feature twirler, color guard, dance team and staff. The planning and funding, which includes transportation and food for the journey to Carson, has a big price tag. 

“It’s expensive to send us all up there and (SDSU) Athletics didn’t bat an eye. They said ‘we want you there. What’s it gonna take?’” Ransom said.

Aztec Football has celebrated victory after victory, achieving a 6-0 record for the second time in 40 years. With Aztec Stadium under construction, the team’s historic home wins have been celebrated over 100 miles away at their home away from home in Carson. Each victory ending with the football team joining the Marching Aztecs in singing the “Fight Song.”

“We’re having to go through a lot of challenges, a lot of hoops to jump through in order to be here but we’re happy to do it. The kids are so passionate about it, I wanna be there, it’s good to be back,” Ransom said.

Between the two-hour bus ride each way, loading busses and performing, gameday for the team ends up totaling 14 hours. 

“It’s definitely brought all of us together,” Ransom said.“We know that better times are ahead when the stadium gets finished. But we’re happy to be up there to support the team this year.” 

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