The Fight Song (Washington State University)

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"The Fight Song"
Published 1919
Genre Fight song
Composer(s) Phyllis Sayles
Lyricist(s) Zella Melcher

"The Fight Song" is the fight song of the Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, Washington. The music to the tune was composed in 1919 by WSU student Phyllis Sayles with fellow student Zella Melcher penning the lyrics.[1] Sayles, who had transferred to WSU from Northwestern University two years before composing "The Fight Song", is also responsible for arranging the 1917 edition of the Northwestern University Songbook.[1]

A non-scientific, 1997 survey undertaken by the Spokesman-Review found few students, employees, and supporters of WSU knew the lyrics to the song, noting that "when it comes to the acid test of Cougar spirit – the ability to sing the fight song on a moment’s notice – almost everyone flunks."[2] Nonetheless, the 1985 film Volunteers features a lyrically correct rendition of "The Fight Song" by John Candy, whose character, Tommy Tuttle, is an alumnus of the university. In the plotline of that film, "The Fight Song" is subsequently adopted by a group of Thai communist partisans as a battle cry.[3][4][5]

In 2013 new uniforms for the Washington State Cougars men's basketball team were debuted which featured the lyrics to "The Fight Song" on the backs of both home and away jerseys.[6]

Some supporters of Washington State University's athletic teams have been known to construct banjos out of used tins of Cougar Gold cheese (a cheddar produced by the Washington State University Creamery) which they then use to perform "The Fight Song." These instruments are colloquially known as "canjos."[7]


  1. ^ a b Studwell, William (2001). College Fight Songs II: A Supplementary Anthology. Routledge. ISBN 078900920X.
  2. ^ Sorensen, Eric (15 November 1997). "Even True Cougs Can't Wax Lyrical To Fight Song They May Carry Rose Bowl Hopes, But Few Can Carry This Tune". Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Washington State University fight song". Washington State University. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  4. ^ "WSU Vancouver is Crimson and (Fifty Shades of) Grey". KREM-TV. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  5. ^ "WSU Graduate Tom Tuttle from Tacoma". Washington State University. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Men's basketball reveals new jersey design". Washington State University. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  7. ^ Brown, Andrea. "WSU store opens doors in downtown Everett". Spokesman-Review (24 May 2014). Retrieved 25 October 2015.