Even though many Clemson students have headed home for the summer, campus is still lively as elementary schools from around the community come to visit the athletic facilities. Over the past two weeks, eight elementary schools and 280 students have toured the campus and athletic facilities. George Bennett, former IPTAY executive secretary, began giving tours after his retirement in 2005 and is now considered the historian for the athletic department.
There could be no better historian, since Bennett has surely left his mark on Clemson, having been a fan, head cheerleader, student, employee and everything in-between. Tour groups have the pleasure of not only touring the athletic facilities but also hearing Bennett's stories detailing his experiences as a Clemson student and learning about Clemson's many traditions.
This summer, the Clemson community relations department is teaming up with Bennett to lead some of the tour groups around the athletic facilities. Katie Inclan (women's track and field) has helped lead tours this week.
"Walking around with Mr. Bennett and hearing all the history that he has been part of really opened my eyes to the impact that each student and athlete can make here at Clemson," noted Inclan. "Even spending a brief tour with Mr. Bennett, I have learned an incredible amount about the legacy that has been left by past generations and the history of many of Clemson's timeless traditions. Through this experience, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the history of Clemson and a sense of pride in being a Tiger."
This week's tours began in Vickery Hall, as each elementary school group learned about the academic learning center and had a question/answer session with several student-athletes, including Alexa Rand, Corey Crawford, Tony Steward and Hannah Brenner. Next, the students journeyed across campus learning about the library, Heritage Plaza, Scroll of Honor and Fort Hill.
One highlight of the tour was Littlejohn Coliseum. The concourse is filled with a timeline briefing some of the major events in Clemson's history. Inclan led the groups around the arena and talked about the history of athletics including Clemson's four National Championship Teams, the groundbreaking of Littlejohn Coliseum and members of Clemson's Athletic Hall of Fame. The students also toured the basketball weight room and the Jervey weight room. The tour finished in the West End Zone, where the students heard the story of Howard's Rock and how Memorial Stadium earned its namesake of "Death Valley."
Each elementary school student left with a little more Clemson knowledge, a few more miles on their shoes, and plenty of pictures to show for it all. Who knows, maybe there were a few future Tigers in that group who will be roaming around Clemson in a few short years.