New victory bell to debut at the Pilots-Notre Dame soccer game
The Associated Students of the University of Portland (ASUP) will debut a new victory bell on Friday night during the women’s soccer match against Notre Dame at Merlo Field. ASUP used student government funds to purchase the bell, which Wally Pilot will ring after each goal scored by the Pilots throughout the season. The bell will also ring out to celebrate victories by every UP athletics team.
Rev. Gerard Olinger, C.S.C., will bless the bell on Friday night during a pre-game ceremony, which is scheduled to take place at 6:45 p.m. in the corner of Merlo Field near the flag pole.
“I’m very proud to help bring back this great UP tradition,” said ASUP president Brock Vasconcellos. “ASUP got a lot of positive feedback from students about a new victory bell, and I’m confident this will quickly return to being an iconic part of Pilot athletics.”
A victory bell first appeared on the UP campus in 1939, when it was salvaged from a ship and obtained from the Alaska Junk Company. It was mounted on a cart and towed to pep rallies as well as football and basketball games by the Engineers Club (also known as the “Bell Custodians”). With funding from a gift from the Class of 1942 and the student government, the bell was placed in a concrete “Bell Shrine” near the Pilot House. In a show of patriotism, the clapper was removed during World War II and not restored until final victory in 1945.
A scary moment took place on March 7, 1948, when the bell was stolen. It was recovered a week later, abandoned on SW Hampshire Street in the Arlington Heights neighborhood of Portland.
When construction of Buckley Center in 1968 required the demolition of the Bell Shrine, the victory bell came under the stewardship of various student groups, particularly the Iota Kappa Pi and Upsilon Omega Pi fraternities. In October 1989, the Pilot Victory Bell was placed in a “tower” adjacent to the Earle A. and Virginia H. Chiles Center.
The victory bell once again rang out in celebration of victories for many years, but fell silent several years ago when the bell cracked and could not be repaired.
A new victory bell was cast in 2012, with funding coming from ASUP’s Capital Improvement Fund. A cart to hold the bell was donated by Anderson Roofing, and the bell – just like in years prior – will be brought to and from Pilots athletics events.
The original victory bell still stands in its tower near the Chiles Center.