Sneaking In: Tales of Trespass in Byrd and Cole

Photo by Gillian Vesley

Photo by Gillian Vesley

By Samantha Pitkin

Maryland students continue to push boundaries by taking part in the long-standing tradition of sneaking into Byrd Stadium and Cole Field House after hours.

Most University of Maryland students have at one time or another heard about that “gap beneath the fence” that allows you to sneak into Byrd Stadium after dark. Running around the end zone and climbing to the very top of the stadium to see the Washington Monument is one thing that every student should try before they graduate; at least according to those who have done it.

Josh Magness, a sophomore journalism major, was able to sneak into Byrd Stadium this past summer with some friends from home.

“We all walked there and found a black gate on the side of the stadium and we tried to climb it, but it just swung wide open. So we just walked in,” said Magness.

Home to the Maryland football team, the field inside the stadium is appealing to those fans who want to experience what it’s like to not be in the stands for a change.

“We layed in the end zone, touched the grass, and I also lost my shoes,” said Magness.

Besides the one shoe casualty, Magness and his friends had an easier time getting in than most people who have tried to sneak in through the gate or climb a fence. Not everyone is so lucky, and it turns out that avoiding security when sneaking into Byrd and on top of Cole Field House is harder than one might think.

Grace Lee, a 2014 University of Maryland graduate, got caught sneaking onto the roof of Cole Field House for the first time with her best friend during April of her junior year.

“We saw someone by the tennis courts just creepily standing there but we didn’t realize it was the police trying to figure out if we were people or inanimate objects,” said Lee.

Although Lee believes that they could have outrun the police, the pair decided that getting caught while trying to run away would have been a lot worse than just accepting their punishment to begin with. The officers wrote down their University Identification numbers and made it clear to them that they had gone out of their way looking for them and therefore citations were a necessity.

“We didn’t realize that someone saw us up there. We just hung around the top of the dome eating our grapefruit checking out the view of D.C.,” said Lee.

The views of Washington D.C. from the roof of Cole Field House and the top of Byrd Stadium is part of what takes the experience of sneaking in to the next level. It’s hard to find a (legal) view of the Washington Monument from anywhere else in College Park, which makes Byrd and Cole Field House even more appealing locations.

Since Byrd Stadium first opened in 1950 and Cole Field House opened as the “Student Activities Center” in 1955, countless UMD students have included sneaking into Maryland athletic facilities on their University of Maryland pre-graduation bucket lists, along with things like “jump into the fountain on the mall” and “pull an all-nighter at Mckeldin.”

Illegally climbing to the top of buildings presents numerous risks, but it isn’t enough to deter students from climbing. Climbing the roof of a building does not come with an instruction manual, so it takes a lot of guessing and trust in yourself in order to do it. It takes “liquid courage” for some students in order to go through with the adventure, while others take the more serious and sober route.

The benefits of getting to the top far outweigh any trouble they could have gotten into with security and Lee says she would do it again “in a heartbeat.” According to Lee, no other building that she has climbed compares to Cole Field House and the views that she was met with at the top.

“None are as fun as Cole. It’s not fun unless there’s a danger element to it. Just being up there while I professed my love for Maryland [was the most memorable part of the experience]. Let’s be real, Maryland’s got the best flag in all of America, I was so proud to be a Terp” said Lee.

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