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Rock Chalk Jayhawk siblings stay connected on game day

A love of KU basketball and each other keeps the Atkins siblings close on game day and beyond
A love of KU basketball and each other keeps the Atkins siblings close on game day and beyond
Sandy Wallace

The Atkins siblings grew up in a large, tight-knit Army family. Born between 1949 and 1968, the siblings live from Virginia to Hawaii, including three who live in Kansas, where their parents settled after their dad's retirement.

The eight Atkins siblings pose with their parents at a family reunion
Sandy Wallace

The Atkins siblings all enjoy good food, great chocolate and a love of family. Some of the siblings love skiing, hiking and other outdoor activities while others prefer being indoors.

One love the siblings all share is KU basketball. Several of the Atkins siblings graduated from the University of Kansas, but even those who attended different colleges try to tune in on game days.

KU men's basketball is a family tradition in the Atkins family. The tradition is shared by the siblings' mom, who rarely misses a televised game.

When possible, the siblings who live near one another in Kansas get together on game days. That's not an option for the siblings who live out of state.

Several of the Atkins siblings keep in touch on game days with group text messages. Texts range from annoyed messages after bad shots or flubbed calls to "Rock Chalk" texts during the final minutes of games the team wins.

If you've attended a KU game or watched coverage on television, you know that fans chant the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant during the final minutes of each win.

The Jayhawk, a mythical bird, is the mascot for the University of Kansas. The Rock Chalk chant, among the most famous of all college cheers, was created by Kansas professor E.H.S. Bailey in 1886 and officially adopted in 1887.

As reported in the college's newspaper on Nov. 4, 1887, "Every college of importance in this country has a college cry. In every town in which a college is situated, the midnight air resounds with the hideous yells of the student, symbolic of victory, defeat, or devilment. The students of the University of Kansas use their yell but little and it is only admidst great victory that "Rock-chalk-Jay-Hawk, K-U-U-U floats throught the midnight air reminding one of a band of Apache Indians."

When one of the Atkins siblings is working or shuttling kids to various activities, family text updates often include scores and big plays.

Win or lose, the siblings love their Jayhawks. A love of KU was passed on to the next generation. Cousins Jack and Chris spent summer vacations as young boys planning their future basketball careers at KU.

Jack attended college in Virginia, where he lives. Although he didn't play basketball in college, Chris and two of his sisters attended KU.

The bond formed by the Atkins siblings extends beyond game day to include everyday activities and events shared through text messages, phone calls and emails.

Whether commiserating about a problem, sharing good news or encouraging each other, technology helps the Atkins siblings remain connected despite their physical distance.

Sibling love is a wonderful thing. Whether the siblings are toddlers, teens or adults, special moments shared with each other create future memories.

For the Atkins siblings, text messages are just one way to share the love with each other. Whether across town or across the country, the siblings know that love and support is always close at hand.

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