That co-ed Baylor Line: Beloved tradition celebrates 30 years since expansion

In 2017, Baylor alumnae from 1974-98 were invited to run the Line for the first time. Photo courtesy of Baylor Proud

By Ashlyn Kennedy | Reporter

While the Baylor Line has been showcasing school spirit on the football field since 1970, the beloved campus tradition has only been open to women for the past 30 years.

When the Baylor Line was first established, only men were allowed to run. The following year, the Baylor Sideline was created as a “parallel organization” for women so they could support the football team in alternate ways.

Baylor alumna Dana Lee Haines, who currently works in financial services, participated in the Sideline as a freshman.

“We made cookies and brownies for football players, and we had a shirt that said ‘Baylor Sideline,’” Haines said. “I didn’t consider [not running the Line] that big of a deal since we had that.”

Baylor alumna Dr. Kim Scott, who currently serves as director of campus recreation, grew up in the Waco area and began attending the university in the fall of 1980. She said she always wanted to run the Line but was told that “girls weren’t allowed to run” as a freshman.

I was just disappointed,” Scott said. “That’s just the way it was, and that’s what we knew at the time.”

In 1994 — 24 years after its founding — the Line became a co-ed line and paved the way for generations to come.

Baylor alumna Monica Pope started attending Baylor in 1999 and got to run the Line five years after it had expanded. She said her experience was “colored” by the recent changes.

“I felt fortunate that I had the opportunity to do it, because it was something other women hadn’t gotten a chance to do,” Pope said. “That drove me to do it.”

Pope said it is special for the Line to include all freshmen because it allows students to come together in school spirit.

“Being excited about Baylor football is not exclusive to men,” Pope said. “Having women there, it’s just a more collective experience for the people who are excited about Baylor football.

Over two decades of female Baylor graduates were unable to run the Line during their time at the university, but that changed in 2017 when President Linda Livingstone invited alumnae who were freshmen between 1970 and 1994 to participate in a ceremonial running of the Line. On Oct. 28, 2017, more than 800 women ran the Line for the first time.

Scott said the day was like a “mini homecoming,” and the enthusiasm was palpable.

“You could just feel the excitement,” Scott said. “It wasn’t born out of any pain we felt. It was just born out of a common experience we were excited to be a part of.”

Haines ran the Line with several friends from different graduating classes. She said the event was a special opportunity to connect alumnae back to the university.

Freshmen get to do it every game, but we’re not ever going to do it again,” Haines said. “For us to get to do it as the women who didn’t get to do it back then, it was such an honor.”

Jordy Dickey, director of Student Activities, said the Line is an important milestone for all students because it is “a tangible representation of the spirit of Baylor.”

“We’re positioning these traditions to really reflect our mission holistically,” Dickey said. “We look at how these moments, no matter how they were designed, really reflect today’s students but also reflect who we say that we are: a caring Christian community that loves and cares for all individuals.”

Baylor alumna Alison Cherry graduated from Baylor in 1995 and never ran the Line. She said she didn’t even think of the impact until touring the university with her daughter and getting to watch her run the Line.

“There’s a lot of things that have changed from when I was here to now,” Cherry said. “It’s little changes like [the Baylor Line becoming co-ed] that build the foundation for bigger changes.”

Dickey said it’s important to acknowledge the history of the Line while also moving forward in making traditions accessible to all future students.

“That’s the powerful thing about traditions — that they can be long-standing, but we can also make them better for future generations,” Dickey said. “We want to reconcile those moments so that it can provide a powerful way for our alumni to really feel a deeper connection to their institution.”