Rebel Run Rambunctiously Returns

Some 1,400 Ole Miss freshmen and sophomores run across Vaught-Hemingway Stadium turf

More than 1,400 students from the classes of 2024 and 2025 sprint across the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium during this year’s Rebel Run, held Nov. 5 before the Ole Miss-Liberty University football game. This year’s event featured two classes because last fall’s run was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi‘s classes of 2024 and 2025 resumed the tradition of Rebel Run on Saturday (Nov. 6) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, as more than 1,400 students in red shirts had permission to frolic across the field before the Ole Miss-Liberty University football game.

In most years, the entire freshman class is allowed to run across the field for one of the early home football games, and thousands typically parade energetically across the field before fans, who are often astonished at the length of the line. Last year’s freshman class couldn’t participate because of COVID, so this year, both freshman and sophomores participated in a combined Rebel Run.

Organizers had planned the event for the Ole Miss-Tulane game in September, but it was postponed due to inclement weather.

After Rebel Run, Kresha Patel, a sophomore international studies major from Ridgeland, said the experience of sprinting onto the field with her closest friends was “exhilarating, to say the least.”

“Sharing Rebel Run with the Class of 2025 and building such a large group of us to do this with reminds me of just how bonded the Ole Miss community is,” she said.

Her mind was racing as she raced across Hollingsworth Field ahead of the two teams’ warmups.

“While running the 100 yards, the sole thought in my head was that these are the days,” Patel said. “Ole Miss continuously gives me the days that I will always remember, and Rebel Run was one of the most memorable!”

The university’s enrollment is up, according to figures released Nov. 2. UM enrolled 21,856 students across its seven campuses for fall 2021. This includes 3,584 students in the freshman class – an 18% increase over 2020, the largest increase from one fall to the next in university history.

The fall 2021 overall enrollment figure represents a nearly 1% increase, compared to the university’s fall 2020 enrollment of 21,676.

Because the Class of 2024 did not get to participate last fall, a maximum of 1,000 students from that class were able to sign up for this year’s run. This year’s freshman class was capped at 1,500 students for Rebel Run.

It’s exciting to resume the tradition, said Bradley Baker, director of the Gertrude C. Ford Ole Miss Student Union.

“We were excited to continue this long-standing game day tradition after postponing the event last year,” Baker said. “We are thankful to have such great partners in Ole Miss athletics to assist in coordinating Rebel Run not just for the Class of 2025, but the Class of 2024 as well.”

Jordain Lang, assistant director of student activities, said she encourages the event when talking with students.

“Whenever I am talking to students and they are reluctant, I am usually telling them this is probably the only time you will get to be on the field during an Ole Miss football game,” Lang said. “What a cool experience it is; just do it.”

This year’s Rebel Run, featuring the UM classes of 2024 and 2025, was delayed by heavy rains at the Ole Miss-Tulane University game and moved to the Nov. 6 matchup with Liberty University. Many students enthusiastically encourage others to participate in the annual event, calling it a highlight of their student careers at the university. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

She said Rebel Run is always fun.

“It’s an event that can be a little bit chaotic in the best kind of way,” Lang said. “Our students love Rebel Run, and they do it and it ends being a really exciting experience for them.”

Patel agrees with Lang’s assessment of Rebel Run being one of the highlights of her time here.

“I ended the run completely out of breath and in disbelief of how football players run back and forth on the field for hours,” Patel said. “Rebel Run is definitely something unique to Ole Miss and makes this university that much more special.”

Miley Ray, a sophomore international studies and journalism major from Jackson, is the daughter of two alumni, so she grew up attending Ole Miss games. Her brother, Dickson Ray, an Ole Miss senior, participated in Rebel Run as a freshman.

“The first time I witnessed the Rebel Run as a fan, I was so jealous!” Ray said. “I love that both myself and my older brother have gotten to do that, even though we did it during different years.

“It was definitely worth the early morning wake-up call to get to run through the field in front of all the fans with my best friends!”

Daneel Konnar, a sophomore public policy leadership major from Meridian, called it “the experience of a lifetime.”

“The feeling is unreal,” Konnar said. “Excitement is running through your body as all of your fellow classmates are running across the field. All I could think about was running across the field as fast as I could with the crowd in the stands cheering us on.”

Konnar was excited to get a chance this year, given last year’s run was canceled due to COVID.

“It felt that we were all connected as students, having that opportunity to share a memory that will last a lifetime,” Konnar said. “Rebel Run will definitely be one of the highlights of my college years, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to share that moment with my fellow peers.”

Emmie Burgess, a sophomore public policy leadership major from Fort Smith, Arkansas, called the experience “incredible.”

“While it was so cool to get to walk through the football entrance and run across the field, the coolest part was being surrounded by my sophomore class and finally getting to experience one of the many things we missed last year,” Burgess said. “Things felt like they were finally turning back to normal.

“I will mark that down as one of the coolest memories of my sophomore year: running across the Ole Miss football field surrounded by my best friends and peers.”

As Azalea Smith, a freshman law studies major from Miami, walked to the practice field to meet the other Rebel Runners, upperclassmen she encountered along the way talked about their Rebel Run experiences, which added to the specialness, she said.

“I overheard upperclassmen reminiscing their Rebel Run experience, explaining how it was one of the best decisions they made freshman year,” Smith said. “It only made me more excited and I walked even faster.”

Smith believes everyone should do Rebel Run.

“It was the quickest 100 yards of my life,” she said. “Getting the chance to look out into the stands seeing all those Reb fans should be a mandatory experience.”