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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What victory looks like

Meet the Victory Bell.

Most days, it lives a laid-back life, tucked comfortably in the shadow of the McLarty Staircase at the Miller-Ward Alumni House (MWAH). But one night a year, it emerges as the centerpiece of one of the largest celebrations of Emory's athletics teams.

The Victory Bell Celebration to honor senior student-athletes took place at MWAH, Monday night, March 29, and more than 100 athletes and coaches came out to congratulate student-athletes representing each of Emory's 16 varsity sports.

Following a welcome from Director of Athletics and Recreation Tim Downes, keynote speaker Jenn Hildreth Riehn 99C, a three-sport athlete as a student and now a commentator for Fox Sports South, delivered a brief, engaging speech, in which she, in part, credited her athletics experience at Emory for helping her get to where she is now.

"Being an athlete helped me in my career; it gave me credibility," said Hildreth Riehn, who experienced her greatest Emory success on the soccer field (a goalkeeper, she is tied for fourth all-time in wins).

Then came the ringing of the bell. Actually ... let me back up a bit.

The Victory Bell ceremony is a young tradition here at Emory, but the bell itself has an interesting history. During World War II, more than 3,500 alumni and former students served in the military, and 121 lost their lives. In 1945, to honor Emory's contributions to the war effort, a 10,700-ton cargo ship was christened the Emory Victory, and on that ship, was the Victory Bell.

During the Korean War in the early 1950s, the Emory Victory returned to service. Following that conflict, the bell was sent to Emory as a memento. The Emory Victory went on to serve as a supply ship in the Pacific for more than 20 years. In 2001, the bell moved to the Miller-Ward Alumni House, where it remains today.

Seniors and coaches from each team took turns ringing the Victory Bell, but the number of rings allotted to each team depended on a few things.

Each bell ring represents one of six accomplishments: academic excellence, representing Emory in intercollegiate competition, winning a UAA championship, representing Emory in post-season competition, earning a top 10 final ranking, and winning a team or individual national championship.

For the 2010 ceremony, the women's swimming and diving team (by virtue of its recent national championship) and women's tennis team (courtesy of junior Lorne McManigle's 2009 singles title) earned the maximum six rings. In all, the bell was rung a combined 54 times.

And the Victory Bell is a lot louder than it looks.

See the photos from the Victory Bell Ceremony on the EAA's Facebook fan page.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

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