Becoming a Rival: Slow and Steady Transition

Kristine Young

There is red, everywhere.

That thought that kept running through my mind in my first few weeks at the University of South Dakota. The harsh and uninviting color was everywhere, but I was going to have to adjust.

After graduating from South Dakota State University, I decided to go to graduate school at USD. Yes, I know it’s the rival school and many people have called me a traitor. I did not think it was that big of a deal. While I enjoyed my four years at SDSU, I was ready for something new and I didn’t think making the switch from a jackrabbit to a coyote would be hard.

I was wrong.

Something as simple as wearing a red t-shirt was a challenge. I work on campus, and everyone wears red on casual Fridays. It took me two weeks to buy a USD t-shirt and then another week to finally put it on. I was convinced I would break out in a life threatening rash, but luckily I survived. I can now bring myself to wear red on Fridays, but it’s a rare occasion for me to wear it any other day.

Not only is having to add the color red to my wardrobe a challenge, but also the never-ending, anti-jackrabbit jokes can be exhausting. By no surprise, the minute anyone on campus learns I graduated from SDSU, the snarky comments and jokes begin to fly. I expected this, but didn’t realize how instantly defensive and borderline offended I would be. At times I have found myself defending SDSU as if I were defending a family member. Each joke or comment just fuels my loyalty to my Alma Mater.

The SDSU jokes are hard to endure, but I’m also always surprised by how quick I am to befriend the rare jackrabbit on campus. Occasionally, I find a faculty or graduate student on campus that graduated from SDSU and our ties as alumni instantly bond us. It’s comforting when I find someone who understands what it’s like to be a spec of blue in a sea of red.

While I’ve come to appreciate USD and the people I’ve met here, I was a jackrabbit first, and I will never consider myself a coyote. I proudly display my SDSU diploma in my office, wear the occasional blue and yellow t-shirt around campus and even have my keys on a SDSU lanyard. Some people’s loyalty to either school is rejuvenated by a basketball or football game, but immersing myself into the rival school solidified and strengthened my loyalty to SDSU while showing me that I will forever be a jackrabbit.