Big Game Week is one of the busiest and most exciting times on the University of California campus. The entire week is filled with events, rallies, and tons of spirit! To kick off the beginning of Big Game Week, Rally Committee, Cal Band, Cal Cheerleaders, Dance Team, the Mic Men, and Oski take over a cable car and ride through the streets of San Francisco, greeted and cheered on by Cal fans. The rally begins in Ghirardelli Square, and concludes in Union Square in an amazing demonstration of Cal Spirit. Also during Big Game Week, the Rally Committee puts on a Tree Chopping Rally. For this rally, Cal Spirit teams up with the Cal Logging Sports Team to put on an event that shows our Big Game pride (and poke fun at the Stanford Tree, of course). Following the Tree Chopping Rally, the Rally Committee put on a comedy show known as Laugh Your Axe Off. This comedy extravaganza showcases the talent of local comedians and student groups, like the Men's Octet and Jericho! This event is a fun way to bring people out, take a small break from studying, and have a laugh or two at Stanford's expense! Another unique and amazing Big Game Week event is our Night Rally! The Rally Committee, Cal Cheerleading, Dance team, Cal Band, Mic Men, and sometimes even Oski dance through the streets. The group winds through the city of Berkeley, stopping at the fraternities, sororities, and Units as the Cal Band plays. This rally ends on Sproul, as Sather Gate is lit up in all blue and gold.
During the entire week, In the spirit of the rivalry, the Rally Committee does its part to ensure that students on campus rid themselves of any red clothing they may have accidentally brought to Cal. In exchange for a red item of clothing and a can of food, students are given a Big Game Week themed blue and gold T-shirt designed by members of the Committee. After collecting all the red clothing and cans, the Rally Committee donates them to local charities. During Big Game Week, the Rally Committee decorates the campus in blue and gold. Since it began in 2002, this tradition has continued to grow every year. The Committee is responsible for the lighting and decorating of many popular buildings and landmarks on campus, including the Doe Library, the Campanile, Sproul Hall, the East Asian Studies Library, Sather Gate, the Big C, and Wheeler. Banners are hung all over campus, and dorm stunts are made in different dorm buildings around Berkeley. Big Game Week ends with a bang with the annual Big Game Bonfire Rally. After the Bonfire Rally, the entire Cal Community will descend on California Memorial Stadium or Stanford Stadium for the annual Big Game between the Golden Bears and the Cardinal. If California is victorious, then there will be an Axe Rally the next Monday.
Big Game Week Rallies and Events
A more recent practice of the Rally Committee is campus decorating that takes place in order to turn the campus blue and gold—literally—for Big Game Week. In addition to Big game Week posters, the Committee designs, paints, and hangs canvas banners on prominent buildings to advertise the various events being held throughout the week. Since 2002, Sather Gate has been decorated with blue and gold lights, Doe Library's columns are outfitted with blue and gold lighting, and the Campanile is lit up with blue using gels and shapes such as a walking bear or Cal script are projected on the sides using go-bo lighting and metal stencils.
Cable Car Rally
On the Monday of Big Game Week, the Cal Spirit Groups and the University of California Marching Band take over a a cable car line in San Francisco. Rally Committee members hold the California Banner outside one of the cars as it goes up the streets and is cheered on by Cal alumni and fans in the city. The rally begins at Ghirardelli Square and concluded at Union Square in downtown San Francisco. It is one of the most unique rallies conducted by the UC Rally Committee all year.
Tree Chopping Rally
The Tree Chopping Rally is a specialized rally held on Sproul Plaza at noon on the Tuesday of Big Game Week. The Cal Logging Sports Team showcases axe throwing, chain sawing, and chopping techniques used to fell trees symbolizing California's triumph over the Stanford Tree (the mascot of the Stanford band). Oski joins in the fun to show Cal fans his gusto in bringing down his arch nemesis. Also in attendance is the Cal Dance Team, Cal Cheerleaders, and the Cal Band.
The Big Sing
Join us as several of Berkeley and Stanford's A Capella groups battle it out in song! Groups that will be in attendance include Noteworthy, Cal Jazz Choir, UC Men's Chorale, UC Women's Chorale, and California Golden Overtones. We hope to see you there! Typically, the Big Sing has alternates between the California and Stanford campuses.
Night Rallies are a type of Rally that is unique to the Berkeley campus. Held typically on the Thursday night of Big Game Week, the rally begins at Bowles Hall. The UC Rally Committee, accompanied by the Mic Men, Cal Band, Dance Team, Cheerleaders, and impromptu followers wind through frat row, the dormitory unites, streets close to campus, and end around Sproul Plaza.
The Bonfire Rally is the largest and most important rally put on during the year. This amazing event is held in the Hearst Greek Theatre on the eve of Big Game, and it is by far the most stunning display of the Spirit of California that one can find at this University. Enjoyed by thousands of students and alumni alike, this bonfire is a key component in firing up our fellow Californians before the Big Game. The Rally Committee is responsible for building and burning down the largest bonfire west of the Mississippi. Thousands upon thousands of students, faculty, alumni, and Cal fans fill the entire Greek Theater to witness one of the most dramatic, inspiring, and moving rallies. And did we mention the HEAT?! Rally Committee members spend the entire Friday of Big Game Week; building the structure of pallets, preparing for the fire that reaches almost four stories high! Many alumni come to speak and share stories of Big Games past, while the football team makes a quick visit, different student groups perform, cries of Freshmen More Wood! are heard all night long, and the entire theater sits in the glow of candlelight as the fires dies down.
The next Bonfire Rally is scheduled to take place Friday, November 17, 2023 at 7:00pm at the Greek Theatre and usually lasts about an hour. This is definitely an event that no Cal fan would want to miss, so make sure you are that the Greek Theatre the Friday before Big Game! Seating is first come first serve, and fans are encouraged to arrive early.
The rivalry between the University of California Golden Bears and the Stanford University Cardinal is one of the oldest and most storied rivalries in the country. Spanning over a century, California and Stanford have met a total of 125 times with the Cardinal leading the all-time series 49-65-11. The Big Game is known for its competitive nature no matter what each school's record may be going into the game. There have been spectacular upsets and well as solid victories for both California and Stanford. Perhaps the best known play in college football history took place during the 85th Big Game on November 20, 1982. Simply known as The Play, down 20-19 with only four seconds remaining on the clock, the Bears used five laterals to make it into the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown. While The Play itself would be spectacular by itself, what makes it nationally (and indeed internationally) famous, is that the Bears not only had to make it passed the Stanford team, but the Stanford band as well! The win in 1982 secured a winning record for California that season and kept Stanford quarterback John Elway from ever reaching a bowl game during his collegiate career.
The 2023 edition of the Big Game will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2023 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. The Bears will look to retain the Axe by winning their third straight Big Game in Palo Alto and fourth in five years. No matter where the game is played, California spirit comes out in force for Big Game and in the past, California partisans have been known to make up a majority of the crowd at Stanford Stadium, drowning out the Stanford student section. When at Memorial Stadium, the noise from the student section and alumni section alike is deafening, giving the Bears a clear home-field advantage.
After Bonfire Rally, this is probably the most popular rally on the California campus for one reason, and one reason only: if an Axe Rally is held, that means the Bears defeated the Cardinal just two days prior in the Big Game. If California has retained or regained possession of the Stanford Axe, a rally is held on the Monday following the Big Game. This rally starts on the steps of Sproul Hall and is the first time after the game that the Axe is displayed in public. The rally concludes with the Axe being paraded around the campus by the UC Rally Committee with the Cal band, spirit groups, and any other willing participants.
Before the Axe became a perpetual trophy to the winner of the Big Game, California would hold Axe Rallies on a regular basis before football contests with Stanford and before important basketball and baseball contests with the Cardinal as well. The first California Axe Rally was held in the fall of 1899. Before the Axe Rally of 1930, a group of 21 Stanford students (known as the immoral 21), stole the Axe and a few years later it was decided between the two universities that it would be an eternal trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Big Game. The first Axe Rally after it was made a trophy was held in the fall of 1936 after California beat Stanford 20-0 at California Memorial Stadium. The most recent Axe Rally was held on Monday November 21, 2022 after California's thrilling, come-from-behind victory over Stanford in Berkeley the previous Saturday. If California prevails in the 126th Big Game on November 18, 2023, the Axe Rally will be held the following Monday, November 20, 2023 starting at 12:00pm on the steps of Sproul Hall.
The tradition of Homecoming Week was revived in 2002 and in 2003, for the first time in 40 years, the University saw a full week of student-oriented Homecoming Week activities. This was largely a result of the coordination of the Rally Committee and the newly-formed Student Homecoming Team, along with support from 17 other student organizations and affiliates. Homecoming Week celebrates and honors the people of California. Each year, a number of events, activities, and participating groups has increased. Now, the UC Rally Committee and the other Cal Spirit Groups work closely with the Cal Alumni Association's Student Homecoming Team to present and all-inclusive week for students, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff.
Homecoming Week Rallies and Events
As many alumni return to campus to reminisce about their days as students and parents come to town to visit their sons and daughters, the Rally Committee and Cal Spirit gears up to produce one of its largest annual events: the Homecoming Rally. Featuring performances from popular student acts such as the Men's Octet, the Golden Overtones, the Cal Tae Kwon Do team, and dan troupes, the rally is meant to pump everyone up for the football game the following day. The rally is normally held in Haas Pavilion.
Generally held on a Saturday in the middle of the football season, the Homecoming Game is a time for alumni and members of the Cal community that may no longer be in the Bay Area to return to Memorial Stadium to cheer on their Golden Bears. After the revival of the homecoming tradition, the Homecoming Game (in addition to the Joe Roth game) was played against whichever Los Angeles area team (USC or UCLA) made the trip to Berkeley. Within the last decade, however, the homecoming game was separated from the Joe Roth game and now just features an early conference opponent. The next homecoming game will be on October 7, 2023 against Oregon State.
Charter Week commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the University of California and there are a number of fantastic events put on to celebrate the university’s birthday!
Charter Week Rallies and Events
On March 23, 1863, just 18 years after California was admitted to the Union, Governor Henry Haight signed the Organic Act to create and organize the University of California into law. It was on that day that the university was born. March 23 to this day continued to be somewhat of a holiday on the University of California campus and there are many events on the 23rd as well as during the preceding and following weeks to celebrate the occasion.
Started in 2002, Charter Games are an annual event held during Charter Week. The games were inspired by the Freshman-Sophomore Brawl which was an old Big Game Week tradition known as Blue Monday. On the old Blue Monday, students caught wearing red on campus were asked to complete tasks similar to the games that were played in 2002. Now, Charter Games include a Rock Wall, Obstacle Courses, and a Jousting Circle.
Joe Roth Memorial Game
Joe Roth was the starting quarterback for the Golden Bears in 1975 and 1976. As a junior in 1975, he led California to an 8-1 record and its first share of a conference championship (Pac-8 at the time) since 1959. The team finished the season with an 8-3 record with Joe starting in the third game of the season after the Bears began the season 0-2. With Chuck Muncie at running back and Wesley Walker at Wide Receiver, the Golden Bears claimed the nation's total offensive title, averaging over 450 yards per game. Joe was the outstanding young quarterback of that team, and his future at Cal and in the NFL seemed extremely bright. Instead, he died a tragic death at the age of 22, shortly after the end of the 1976 season, after a long, horrible bout with malignant melanoma. Through it all, Joe showed remarkable strength, courage, optimism, and compassion, as he never stopped fighting to live.
In 1977, at the California-USC game, Joe Roth was remembered and honored as his number 12 was retired—the first number ever to be retired and currently the only football jersey to ever be retired at Cal. In addition, there was a moment of silence before the game for all cancer victims in addition to Joe Roth. To this day, the home game against either USC or UCLA is designated as the Joe Roth Memorial Game to honor his memory. The next Joe Roth Memorial Game will be on November 25, 2023 against UCLA. Once the Los Angeles schools leave the conference for the Big 10, a new annual opponent will be needed to continue the tradition of the Joe Roth Game.
On the Friday before each home game, a rally is put on at noon on the Sproul Hall Steps. The Band, Cheerleaders, Dance Team, Mic Men, Oski, and the Rally Committee all join together for a short rally, usually only fifteen to twenty minutes, to catch people on their way to and from class and pump them up before the game the next day.
For special occasions such as the first football game of the season, Homecoming, or Big Game Week, a night rally is held. A night rally is a moving rally in which the Rally Committee, Cal Band, the Mic Men, the California Cheerleaders, and Dance team move from place to place around campus to raise support and excitement for the Golden Bears. Most recently, night rallies have begun at Bowles Hall, pass through the Greek Houses, head on to Unit 2, Unit 1, and then Unit 3, with a finish on campus either near Lower Sproul or Upper Sproul near Sather Gate.
Before each home game, a rally is held in front of Sproul Hall with the Cal Band and all of Cal Spirit. At the pregame rally, you will be sure to hear Big C, Lights Out March (including Fight for California), and Sons of California. There is usually a quick preview of the Cal Band halftime show. After playing a few songs and rallying the Cal faithful, the band and all of Cal Spirit marches up through the campus to Memorial Stadium. Right before turning on Gayley (in front of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building), the Cal Band and everyone joining will sing the traditional SS Titanic and the march ends at the north tunnel of the stadium.
March to Victory
Before each home game, members of Cal Band and Cal Spirit gather outside of the north entrance to California Memorial Stadium with Cal fans of all ages to cheer on the Golden Bears before the game.
Usually held sometime in the Spring, Cal Day is the University of California's annual open house for prospective and current Cal students and their families along with alumni and their families. The day long festivities include hundreds of events and culminates with a concert on the steps of Doe Library. Around 45,000 people usually descend on Berkeley for the massive event.
Calapalooza is Berkeley's annual new student activity fair that takes place on Sproul, Dwinelle, and Wheeler plazas and is the heart of the Welcome experience. All new freshmen, FPF, and transfer students are invited. Participants meet representatives from student organizations, as well as view performances by student groups. For questions contact the LEAD Center at (510) 642-5171 or email email@example.com.