The Marching Cardinals and Red perform during the first football game of the 2015 season.

The Marching Cardinals and Red perform during the first football game of the 2015 season.

As with every great university, a strong fight song resonates proudly through the course of time. With the addition of new uniforms and a new name, the Marching Cardinals now proudly claim their own fight song.

“I thought, well, new uniforms, new name, and things work well in threes, so we should have a fight song,” said Dr. Brett Richardson, coordinator of music education/band director and assistant professor of music. “I had heard from athletics staff and many others asking when we were going to have our own.”

Prior to Richardson’s arrival in 2014, UIW had adopted Notre Dame’s fight song to perform at athletic events. But shortly after Richardson assumed his current role, he met UIW Registrar Bobbye Fry whose husband Tommy is a nationally known composer, band director, conductor, teacher, and has worked in the music publishing business.

Soon Richardson learned that Tommy had arranged the Hymn of the Incarnate Word that is played by UIW’s beloved carillon and he requested Tommy arrange the hymn for the band to play during pregame programs as UIW’s school song. Richardson was pleased to learn he had also written a fight song.

“I talked to Tommy and he sent me a recording of it and I just fell in love with it,” explained Richardson. “It follows the form of a fight song. It had a great tune to it and had some themes that were very interesting harmonically.”

Tommy wrote the song for band instruments and Richardson adapted the composition for the Marching Cardinals. The fight song was debuted along with the new uniforms last spring at the Fiesta Flambeau Parade and is now played at UIW athletic events.

C-A-R-D-I-NALS #GoCardsGo

Posted by University of the Incarnate Word Bands on Thursday, December 3, 2015

Richardson stressed that the development of the fight song was a collective effort by not only band members, who worked on its adaptation, but others in the UIW community.

“This has all been really organic,” he said. “The students have created it and the Spirit Teams have helped with the chant at the middle and end. The best part is that it is written by Tommy who is well respected in our state and has a close connection to the university. Everyone that has something to do with the fight song is connected to UIW.”

Though Richardson believes creating tradition takes time, he is already seeing what he calls the “spirit barometer” rising.

“Actually the football team and basketball team at the end of the game will come over before they go into the locker room and put their cardinals (hand symbol) up as we play,” added Richardson. “I can also hear it in the videos I record, the fans are clapping as we play the fight song and it’s starting to take on a life of its own.”

Richardson said he hopes the fight song and school song will eventually have lyrics and welcomes suggestions from the UIW community, including alumni. If you have lyrical ideas you would like to share, email Richardson at

By Brance Arnold ’10 MA