Before the URI football team hits the field on gameday, they drop anchor.
More specifically, one player breaks the tunnel bearing a special possession.
It doesn’t matter if the Rams are home or away. Someone will have the distinction of being the Anchor Bearer for that particular game. It’s a tradition that’s been in place since Jim Fleming arrived as head coach in 2014; the inspiration for which is easily sourced.
The flag of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations consists of a gold anchor that’s surrounded by 13 stars. (History lesson: the Ocean State was the 13th state of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution.) Underneath the anchor, you’ll find a blue ribbon that bears the state’s motto in gold capital letters: HOPE.
“We think it’s our responsibility to represent ourselves, our institution, and the state each time we take the field,” said Fleming. “When we do go out there, we carry the anchor as a representation of being Rhode Islanders.”
Attached to the gold anchor is an 11-link chain that per Fleming “symbolizes that in the next 60 minutes, you’re in stormy seas. That anchor should secure you as you make your way through the storm. When you pick it up, that’s when you go back to port.”
The task of selecting an Anchor Bearer each week is based on a player’s performance during the handful of practices that are held before the honoree is revealed.
“As a coaching staff, we think about those who have been striving hard on the football field and producing and doing the things that our program is built upon, which is accountability, productivity, and persistence,” said Fleming. “The guys who are showing the commitment and showing the kind of play that we like to see on Saturdays are the ones who will be taking out the anchor. It’s a significant honor for our guys.”
“One of my favorite things to do is to bring the entire team underneath the goalposts and announce who the senior game captain is. Then I announce the Anchor Bearer,” said Fleming. “It gives me a chance to present my feelings as well as the feelings of the entire coaching staff about these individuals … what things they’ve been through in football and in their lives. It’s something that our kids look forward to each week.”
With an important piece of the football program in their possession, the URI player who earns the badge of honor as that week’s Anchor Bearer takes the responsibility quite seriously. The news is also shared with the masses. Each postgame recap on www.gorhody.com includes the identity of Anchor Bearer.
“It really shows the guy who did the most during the week …doing the extra things and emphasizing every little detail,” said URI senior safety Momodou Mbye, a past Anchor Bearer recipient. “Basically, you’re showing your heart and telling the entire team that yes, I want to win this game. I want to do everything in my power, no matter what my role is, to help us win.”
BELOW ARE URI’S 2019 ANCHOR BEARERS THUS FAR:
- Ohio (August 31) – Brandon Ginnetti, senior DL
- Delaware (September 7) – Andre Bibeault, redshirt junior DL
- New Hampshire (September 21) – Zoe Bryant, Jr., redshirt senior RB
- Stony Brook (September 28) – Raees Johnson, senior OL
- Brown (October 5) – Isaiah Coulter, junior WR
- Virginia Tech (October 12) – Branyan Javier-Castillo, senior LB
- Albany (October 19) – Keith Wells, senior DL
2019 YurView URI Football Broadcast Schedule:
- Sept. 7 – Delaware, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 – Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 26 – Elon, 1 p.m.
- Nov. 2 – Merrimack, 1 p.m.
- Nov. 23 – James Madison, 12 p.m.