Pete Stone not only has the best dance moves in the southeast, but as a 2003 Clemson graduate is the biggest Clemson Football fan we know. Pete has coined the term "save our mascot" and has been involved with T4T on and off for the past several years. In addition, he has been filming an ongoing documentary on Tigers for Tigers since 2013. Sit down and buckle up because this is the best "College Daze" post yet!
C: Describe your college experience in 3 words
P: Absurd, Adventurous, Ambidextrous.
C: Unfortunately not everyone has been able to experience a REAL college football game day. Could you please explain what a college football game day is like?
P: Words can do no justice to the glory that is College football just as words fail to capture the highest spiritual ecstasies of life, so must the energy of college football be experienced to be explained. The words of Shakespeare, the poetry of Maya Angelou, the beauty of a Rembrandt, the melodies of B.B. King, must all be experienced to truly catch a glimpse of the Divine connection that flows through these phenomena and speak to us about the beauty of life and the energy of love. Rubbing the rock, running down the hill, the roar from a sea of orange as an immortal glides towards the end zone of history are all on the same fixture as the majesty of a waterfall or the boundless rolling waves upon the ocean’s surface. In a word, game day is – magical, but only if Clemson wins….
C: How would you describe tailgating at Clemson?
P: Tailgating is a way of life at Clemson. In fact, so grand is tailgating at Clemson that outsiders might mistake the tailgate as the day’s main event. Although as great as it is, it is still merely a build up to and celebration afterwards of the main course of the Tiger’s football game, unlike the Gamecocks’ fan base, where due to lack of real football, tailgating actually is the main event. More accurately for Gamecocks, tailgating is a method of pregame sedation, and when it starts wearing off in the third quarter, they awaken to realize they’re not Alabama, they flood back towards the concrete jungle to again drown their sorrows away and escape to their curtail riding SEC worship. Although Clemson only tailgates to complement the larger event of the game itself, we’re still two time back-to-back winner of the Southern Living top tailgating school in the nation award!
Young Pete with brother at Danny Ford game in late 80's, and then with brother at ACC championship game in 2011.
As for me, I cannot enjoy tailgating until after the day’s battle has been fought in the valley; there is too much pre-game anxiety. Death Valley got its reputation for a reason, it takes being all in to generate the kind of noise that is Clemson loud and shake the south land. After the game though, tailgating is like the victory meal at a mead hall from warrior days of old where you relive the day’s highlights and relish with fellow tigers the thrill of victory.
C: It's easy to get conservationists involved with saving tigers, but we're working on tapping into those passionate fans to get involved as well. Why it is important to get college football fans engaged in saving the tiger?
P: My first answer to why Clemson football fans should save the tiger is because we can. Clemson fans could be the difference in the world determining if the tiger survives in the wild. What a legacy to send across the nation and world. What better way to continue the legacy of our ancestors and pass it onward to our children? Clemson is saving the iconic majestic creature of the animal kingdom from extinction while South Carolina eats their mascot at Bojangles.
Something about college football tradition connects us to generations past and future. We talk about the great moments that elevated our spirits and of past players like Greek poets spoke of their Olympians. Somehow we hash out the great metaphors of life with the team on the field and find hope to face our own lives with a collective, tenacious, and triumphant spirit. Needless to say we have pride in our mascot and what it stands for. Our tiger mascot, which has represented the icon of our Saturday afternoon passion, now needs us to represent them in their fight for survival. Furthermore, the tiger being an apex predator and king of the jungle means as Gandhi says, “Where tigers live well, everyone lives well.” In short, by protecting tigers, we are protecting the jungle itself, the people of the area, and the world as a whole.
Clemson can prove that we are one of the best things to happen to the world. Too often environmental concerns become a partisan issue, a left versus right thing. The issue becomes an attack on one group or another. The issue of there being fewer than 3,200 tigers in the wild needing to be saved is thankfully not a politically polarizing issue; it is one that the majority of people already agree we need to do something about. Furthermore, Clemson, LSU, Auburn, and Mizzou and more have the answer of what can be done, we can embrace what we are best at, our passion for the tiger and use that passion to literally save our mascot from becoming extinct in the wild and confined merely to a cage like the mascot of our rivals. The tiger’s iconic image of king of the jungle is important to our image; Indeed, the tiger paw of Clemson could become both an international symbol for football and the force that saved the tigers for everyone
C: Couldn't have answered that last question better myself! So how did you get involved with T4T?
P: My involvement with T4T came in a roundabout way. I have bled orange my entire life; I was small in the late 80’s, but still old enough to know that Saturday was “Coach Ford’s day” and Sunday was the Lord ’s Day. Once a student at Clemson, my classes enriched me with a deep understanding of the extreme humanitarian crises occurring in our world that are very preventable. In this state, football is king, the passion a thing of beauty. Likewise, I formed a belief and faith in my Clemson family that if we could put forth that much effort towards football, then we could also unite and harness that energy to be a leader for additional positive changes in the world. In my senior year, I ran for student body president with this as my platform. Of course being a senior, I knew that even if I somehow won that I wouldn’t be around since I was graduating. The comedian part of me wanted to win so my first official act as president could be to resign from office. I figured I had little chance anyway since I had always avoided student government like the plague, but hoped the attention to the campaign could also bring about attention to pushing the Clemson fan base to unite its passion for various humanitarian efforts. I was ultimately kicked out of the race for illegally putting signs in trees and when they caught on I wasn’t going to be around the next year anyway.
After graduating and cleaning out old boxes, I rediscovered a tiger flyer I received at a Clemson football game as a kid in the late 90’s. The flyer talked about Tigers going extinct. Anyhow, I decided the cause so natural for Clemson to save its mascot from extinction that we could be a game changer for the Tiger. Especially at that time, Exxon mobile ironically was one of the largest supporters of Tigers and their contributions were nothing compared to what Clemson has the power to unleash. I formed this idea called “save our mascot” and wanted to make Clemson open dates be changed on the schedule to read ‘Clemson vs. Extinction.” I figured this printed on all the schedules with links online to a website about what Clemson was doing to save tigers could be huge. I e-mailed President Barker who e-mailed me back about Dr. Tonkyn and the already existing T4T group. I was thrilled the ball was already rolling with a group. I was perplexed that I knew nothing about it while at Clemson, guess that’s what happens to philosophy majors, in our own world. Anyway, I worked in 2007 with Dr. Tonkyn and T4T on a Clemson vs Extinction campaign in which we got Coach Bowden involved with a PSA and raffled Tiger art at. Thus, it obviously dawned on me in 2007 that the little flyer I got about tigers while in middle school back in 1996 or 1997 must have been from Takako and T4T crew back when they were getting started!
C: What advice would you give to T4T members and leaders?
P: My advice for other T4T members and leaders is to have fun! Saving the world is a joyous event. We will pass through this world but once, let us do so not trudging through it depressed and full of gloom but full of joy. It’s a privilege to do this work, to be a tiger and protect tigers! Keep your message simple and positive. Let fans know that it is not an either/or decision, to either support football or support saving the tiger; rather, combined. These two ideologies strengthen each other. Simply inform others that Clemson can be the difference that saves our mascot from going extinct in the wild as fewer than 3,200 remain. Ask them to join the fight with the Clemson family and work together to (simple focus of the cause at time) save tigers!