For the sleep-starved UF students sitting outside Emerson Hall, waiting for T-shirts means making memories.
For others, it means proving their own insanity.
Hunter Hurley, a 19-year-old UF political science freshman, made sure his Snapchat followers saw that he got up around 5 a.m. with a group of friends.
“I sent out my streaks at 5:30, and I’m like, ‘Let’s get this bread,’” Hurley said. “And then walk over here. That’s how the day starts.”
The UF Alumni Association passes out 1,500 shirts to student members at Emerson Alumni Hall for popular games, said Jill Pettibone, the associate director of Student & Young Alumni Affairs.
Announcements via email, Instagram and the “Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow” Facebook page notify more than 6,500 members of distribution days and T-shirt designs.
Shirts are free with the membership and covered by dues, Pettibone said. It costs $20 for an annual membership and $400 to become a lifetime member.
The better the Gators football team performs, the longer the line for Beat shirts, she said.
Nate Miller, a 20-year-old UF economics junior and Florida Cicerone, oversees beat T-shirt distribution. The organization can only hand out shirts to the first 1,500 students who show up, he said. He thinks part of the fun for students is having a competition among themselves to see who can get one first.
“It’s a good way to bring a lot of students together for something that’s related to school spirit when you can get away from school work and stress for a while,” Miller said.
Last football season, the “Beat Vanderbilt” and “Beat Tennessee” shirts ran out while students were still waiting in line.
The Florida Cicerones began to hand out shirts at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Students were encouraged to take complementary donuts, juice and a picture with the GEICO mascot on their way out.
Although the line is supposed to start at 7 a.m., eager students line up before sunrise to snag a shirt.
Brandon Bowyer, his girlfriend and her friend were first in line Thursday. They beat the clock and their peers when they arrived at 4 a.m.
The girls bundled up in blankets and sleeping bags to protect themselves from the 60-degree temperature. While they were fast asleep, Bowyer sat alert.
The 21-year-old UF mechanical engineering senior did not come to pick up a T-shirt.
“I came to keep her company,” Bowyer said about his girlfriend. “Nothing else better to do.”
The alumni association sometimes offers a new shirt style, like a tank top, for certain games, Pettibone said. The white “Beat Missouri” T-shirt is the first long-sleeved shirt the association has ever released.
Hurley, Caela Vasquez, Griffin Conaty and Avery Smith waited in line together Thursday morning for the fourth time this year as part of their own new tradition.
When they found out about the new long-sleeved design from the Facebook page, one of them gasped in the middle of their What is the Good Life? class.
Vasquez, an 18-year-old UF biology freshman, enjoys seeing other students wearing the shirt because it gives them something in common to bond over.
“I think it means inclusivity because not many people are that insane to wait outside,” she said.
Smith, a 19-year-old UF business freshman, said a girl came up to him during class because he was wearing the “Beat LSU” shirt.
She jokingly said he was insane, he said. He agreed.
“I think every week someone in the group says, ‘We’re never doing this again,’ and then what do we all do?” Hurley said.
They come back and do it again.
UF Alumni Association student members wait in line behind Emerson Alumni Hall to pick up their “Beat Missouri” long-sleeve shirt Thursday morning.