This year, I have the honor of being in charge of the Cal flags as a Director of Athletics in the UC Rally Committee. You might have seen them around campus either at a game, a rally, or performing with band at various other spirit events. When I got this position, I really didn’t know it was going to entail. I knew it would be a lot of time at sporting events. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the flags this much.
I remember the moment during my first game this year when the Cal Band played a Cal song and I saw the the Cal flags lifted into the air, waving simultaneously from all corners of the stadium. Then a flag waver ran down the end zone with the bear flag flying above to celebrate that we had scored. It was an amazing feeling to see everything I had worked on come to fruition in that moment.
But the story of the flags isn’t just a story of me. There are two people in charge of flags every year. That means that every single one of the 33 positions we need to fill each game day has to be chosen by and approved by both of us. The flags you see on the field are there due to a group effort in which every person has to do their part.
This semester, I have noticed that flag waving brings out something in people that usually isn’t noticed. It brought it out in me, as I have seen it brought out in many others. Flag waving brings out a confidence and a pride that otherwise most people wouldn’t show. I have seen so many people shy away from picking up a flag pole before picking it up and using all their strength to wave it, all with a smile across their face. I have seen so many people struggle who use all of their strength to wave a flag but love the snapping sound as the flag waves in the wind and the feeling of accomplishment as onlookers take pictures of the flag soaring over band so much that they sign up to flag wave every chance they can. Our flags are over twice as heavy as most school’s and require effort to be waved well. But, if you are willing to put in that effort, the flag will look amazing. Even if you don’t think you’re that strong, you would be surprised how quickly you can learn to flag wave well.
This week, I got the chance to do something rare: I got the chance to bring another flag into Cal game days. We got a pride flag. First, I had to figure out what size of pride flag would fit on the poles we had and with that, I realized we had neither enough time nor money to buy a big enough flag that would also slide onto one of our flag poles. So I borrowed a sewing machine and sewed the flag to make it work.
On gameday, I got to take the pride flag around to different locations for pictures with enthusiastic fans and even on the field during halftime and after the game while the band was playing. It wasn’t until I was standing on the field holding the pride flag, surrounded by my friends holding Cal flags, waving along while the Cal Band played their pride show, that I started crying. To be this supported by a community, to have a rainbow flag on the field, and to be able to wave it after looking up a WikiHow article on how to use a sewing machine, was such an amazing experience for me.
I fell in love with the Cal flags when I first picked one up last year and knew that, the flag could look amazing, but it would require hard work. I fell in love with this position when I first saw all flags waving on the football field. I fell in love with the Berkeley community all over again in the middle of my Junior year while waving a rainbow flag on the field along with the Cal flags.