‘Wings of Triumph’—Do You Know this Auburn Angel?
You’ve driven past her. And, maybe—stuck in game day traffic—you’ve had a chance to study her profile. But have you ever met this Auburn angel up close? If so, you’ve seen the character in her face and form. And maybe you’ve wondered about her story. Today, let’s look closely at this champion of Auburn Women’s Athletics, and learn something about the origins of this piece of art.
The sculpture is titled, “Wings of Triumph.” The artist is Branko Medenica, who was commissioned for the piece by Earlon and Betty McWhorter, the namesake donors for Auburn’s Center for Women’s Athletics. Medenica reportedly attended practices for every Auburn women’s sport as part of his research for the project. He also modeled the work, in part, on the Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Under Armor of Samothrace.
The statue was unveiled on Sept 5, 2008; i.e., the day before Tommy Tuberville’s 82nd of 85 wins as Auburn’s coach—an uncomfortably close, basically moral, victory: 27–13 over Southern Miss. Sorry—old habit . . .
At the unveiling ceremony, Jay Jacobs said the statue “stands for the past, present and future of female student athletes at Auburn University.” What more can we say about it now, seven years later? What does this figure symbolize?
Women’s athletics has inspired the Auburn spirit in remarkable ways in 2015. The Auburn Gymnasts had a record-breaking season, culminating with a Super Six appearance. Softball followed suit, winning the SEC tournament and competing in the Women’s College World Series. Our women track and field athletes also set new school and competition records. We hope the soccer team can continue the momentum this fall.
Symbolism can be a fluid thing. Right now, this statue symbolizes a special time of success for Auburn Women’s Athletics. We’re fortunate to have these student athletes representing the University, and it’s fitting to have this uplifting artwork represent our women competitors to the Auburn Family.
By the way, I know what you’re wondering—what year did each Auburn women’s athletics team begin competing? I was wondering that too! And, here they are, in order of appearance: