Chanting and cheering at a Nevada Wolf Pack football game is expected. "N-E-V-A-D-A" or "GO PACK!" or "WOLF PACK!" are a few of the many cheers fans chant while rooting for their team, but that's not what the Wolf Pack was chanting in 1939.
In 1939, students cheered, "We want to see Elsie's knees," and field goals were dedicated to "Elsie's knees." But who was Elsie?
Elsie Crabtree was a freshman civil engineering student attending the University of Nevada in 1939. She was the head drum majorette for the University's Marching Band and the length of her uniform skirt, as debuted at the kick-off parade, started the controversy of the year.
Crabtree's skirt fell eight inches above the knee - a shocking fashion faux pas in the context of 1939 when skirts reached the ankles and only the most daring women would even be seen in pants.
Crabtree's skirt was banned by the Dean of Women, Margaret Mack, who then implemented a list of restrictions on the drum majorettes: no strutting, cartwheels or high kicks and the skirts would be lengthened to reach below the knees.
Making headlines in newspapers across the U.S., including The Milwaukee Journal, The Spokesman-Review, The Standford Daily, among others, Crabtree's knees had started quite the scandal. After the ban from Dean Mack, Wolf Pack quarterback Pat Eaton dedicated a winning field goal kick to Crabtree's famous knees.
Crabtree replied to Dean Mack's ban on her skirt by threatening to quit.
"If I can't wear my regular uniform and show my knees, I won't lead the University band anymore...I'm not ashamed of my knees."
With all this fuss over Crabtree's knees, Professor Ted Post of the music department persuaded Dean Mack to allow the drum majorettes to wear their skirts one inch above the knee and Crabtree could wear hers even shorter since she was head drum majorette.
Crabtree unfortunately couldn't keep up with the demand of school while making her celebrity appearances across the west to lead parades, so she dropped out in December, 1939. She re-enrolled shortly after, but ended up at Compton Junior College in southern California.
With football season right around the corner, the Pride of the Sierra Marching Band's drum majors are busy preparing from the upcoming season and Drum Major Erin Schubert says she would be shocked if a University official told her she couldn't wear something.
"If anyone banned me wearing from a skirt, I would fight it just like Elsie did."
Times have changed and every member of the Pride of the Sierra Marching Band now wears a unisex uniform with pants, a coat and a cape - so everyone's knees are covered.