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Thursday, April 18, 2024
COVID 19  |  UF

How the BEAT Tee tradition is continuing this Fall

Graphic of a laptop with UF BEAT Tees displayed on screen

The Beat Tee tradition is one of many Fall traditions that has been forced to adapt to the special circumstances brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

In previous years, hundreds of students lined up outside Emerson Alumni Hall to get an exclusive Beat Tee, a custom designed shirt saying “Beat” UF’s football opponent for that week. This year, due to COVID-19, virtual RSVP-links will allow students to participate in the contactless giveaway. 

Beat Tees are normally given out by the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow association on the Friday morning before home games during every football season. Each shirt has a unique design, and students, parents and alumni collect the shirts every season.

The Beat Tee giveaway is organized by the Florida Cicerones through STAT, the student wing of the UF Alumni Association. STAT picks five major football home games during the Fall semester to make shirts for its members. 

In other years, 1,500 shirts were made for every game. That number was reduced to 1,000 this year, Lanie Hibbs, STAT vice president for the Florida Cicerones, wrote in an email. 

This year, since members cannot line up in anticipation for the Beat Tees, RSVP links for a giveaway will be emailed and posted on the STAT Instagram. Interested participants share their  alumni ID and shipping address. The shirts will be shipped to members at no extra cost. 

Beat Tees bring a lot of excitement for STAT members, Hibbs said, so the tradition needed to be kept alive during this unprecedented time. 

Rather than getting up early to wait in line, members are expressing their excitement through likes and messages on Instagram, Hibbs wrote.

“Things like this have shown me personally that even with a loss of physical togetherness, there is still community to be found,” Hibbs wrote. “In my eyes, that's the beautiful thing about the University of Florida as a whole.” 

Hibbs and her team put in work in the months leading up to the first Beat Tee announcement on Tuesday, she said. The first tee is “BEAT USC” for the game against South Carolina on Oct. 3.

Students are eligible for a Beat Tee when they purchase a student membership on the UAA website. The annual membership is $40 for all students, but a four-year membership is available to incoming freshmen at $70.

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Rishi Kondapaneni, an 18-year-old UF biology and psychology sophomore, decided to come to UF from St. Louis, Missouri, after feeling a strong sense of community in UF during his campus tour in high school. He said that the Beat Tees are an example of that. 

During his freshman year, Kondapaneni stood in line for a “BEAT LSU” shirt for three hours, on a cold October morning. 

“I remember all of my friends and I were in shorts and a t-shirt and it was like 50 degrees outside. We were like, man, this kind of sucks, but you know you gotta do it for the t-shirt,” Kondapaneni said.

When he and his friends joined the line at 6 a.m., about 200 people were waiting, he said. As time passed, more people joined the line until what seemed like 500 people were all waiting to get one of these shirts. 

For Kondapaneni, BEAT Tees, and the tradition behind them, are about more than just t-shirts. 

“By doing it this year, there's a great amount of resilience and solidarity being shown by the university and the UF Alumni Association,” Kondapaneni said. “It’s an amazing way to bring happiness.”

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