Music professor (and later dean of men) A. Neil Annas wrote a number of the songs that served the NISNS campus during its earliest years. “Castle on the Hill,” “Alma Mater,” and “Loyalty Song” were sung during Northern’s first half-century.
But tastes – and school names – change. In 1961, the Northern Star issued a call for “a snappier tune” to be sung at athletic events.
Physical education professor and swim team coach Francis Stroup answered the call with a new set of lyrics and a modest rewrite of Neil Annas’ “Loyalty Song.” The Star published the new song on November 17, 1961, and it was an instant hit.
Huskies, come on you Huskies
And make a score or two
Huskies, you’re Northern Huskies
The team to pull us through
Forward, together forward
There’s victory in view
Come on you Huskies, Fight on you Huskies
And win for NIU!
Francis Stroup lived to be 101 – long enough to see his famous lyrics honored as one of the nation’s top 25 college fight songs in a 2000 ESPN national poll.
In 2008, a shaken university community found strength in a single line from Stroup’s lyrics: “Forward, together forward.” The phrase remains a rallying cry during challenges of every type, as members of the university community invoke its power to inspire.
We are in this together, it says, and we will prevail.
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