I reviewed the statistics of this blog site today. In my early career I worked in sports information at the college level. The sports information director’s office, or commonly known as the SID office, keeps track of all the statistics for all the varsity sports at a college or university. Looking at stats and trying to interpret them holds a deep rooted fascination for me.
When I looked at the search terms used to find the blog I found out of 389 known terms 104 of them related to the Summerall Guards or Bond Volunteer Aspirants. 94 terms had to do with knob year, matriculation day and/or recognition day. The other roughly 50% had to do with ROTC, general cadet life, and active duty military terms.
The fact that so many people searched for Summerall Guard information and knob year information isn’t too surprising. Both knob year and the Summerall Guards are activities at The Citadel surrounded with mystic and intrigue, mostly by design.
The 4th Class System is designed to make first year cadets learn to follow orders. The knobs are kept dependent on the upperclass cadets for information. Their first year is tough, but they learn to support their classmates and pull together as a team. The system has been in place for years with minor changes. While the knobs are going through their most challenging year their parents are often in the dark as well and end up turning to search engines and the collective knowledge of other parents to help them through.
By junior year some cadets decide to try out to be part of the elite silent drill squad, the Summerall Guards. The cadets who decide to do this are called Bond Volunteer Aspirants (BVA). They aspire to be Summerall Guards and voluntarily go through a very demanding training regiment. By junior year many of the BVA’s hold a high rank in the cadet chain of command which is like having a full-time job on top of a full-time course load. The BVA training is demanding both physically and mentally. It is not unusual for normally communicative cadets to have little communication with their families during this demanding year. All types of rules surround what knobs can and can’t know about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards which builds the mystic and fascination with the entire process.
While quite different in their dynamics, knob year and BVA year are very similar. They are both bound by years of tradition and time-honored secrecy about the process. So it is not surprising that parents and friends turn to search engines to gain knowledge about both processes.
I’ve written about both knob year and the BVA/Summerall Guard process. Links to the most viewed blog entries and pages follow.