Drake Relays Week (Part 1)

So it’s finally at a close. The great season of Relays is over and we are left simply with a mass of memories, event remembrances, and a swell of Bulldog pride. But just because Relays is now technically over, it doesn’t mean I still can’t provide a quick recap, right?

Hy-vee High Jump Monday afternoon I can say I did something very few have ever done: I watched Olympian-caliber athletes high jump in the Hy-vee grocery store. I mean they were literally in the produce section. And yes, it was completely crazy. But also completely amazing. We all crowded around to get an up-close look at World Record Holders doing what they do best. And it would be an understatement to say that the crowd was excited to be there.

A look at the brave heroes competing in the Red Bull Chariot races at the Carnival.

A look at the brave heroes competing in the Red Bull Chariot races at the Carnival.

Hypnotist Monday also offered a Student Activities Board event, Hypnotist Frederick Winters. Students crammed into Parents Hall to watch or participate in the madness. Me, I was definitely on the watching side of the spectrum as my classmates jumped around the stage like kangaroos, declared their love for Justin Bieber, and held an impromptu dance-off.

Book Bash Maybe my favorite event of all of Relays involved a bunch of third graders, markers, chalk, and snack time. It was the SAB DU Book Bash where students from local schools came to Drake to experience the University, learn about the Relays traditions, and celebrate reading. I met some awesome kids and even got to decorate a Drake bookmark of my own.

Carnival So the weather had to stop cooperating sometime, right? Wednesday it was pouring rain with pretty chilly temperatures. But that didn’t stop us from having a Relays Carnival. Red Bull hosted a chariot race competition, we gave out awesome hot food, and students got to play in a giant game truck. So no, you really can’t rain out the Relays spirit.

And guess what? That’s only one half of the week! Stay tuned for Relays Recap #2! #cliffhanger



Street Painting

Hundreds of students. Limitless gallons of paint. One street in the middle of Des Moines, Iowa. That’s all it takes for one of the most epic traditions in all of college: Drake University Street Painting.

The moments before the Street Painting madness.

The moments before the Street Painting madness.

This year’s celebration, hosted by none other than the Drake Student Activities Board, took place on Friday. Needless to say, it was pretty amazing. Campus organizations come together to claim their squares on Drake’s painted street, located in the heart of campus, right in front of the library. And while campus groups produced some incredible Snapshots of Excellence-themed squares this year, street painting is about so much more than the actual painting of the street. In fact, some might even say the squares are secondary to the massive friendly paint fight that never fails to emerge. Every year, campus briefly transforms into a battle zone with paint splattering, pouring, and flying all over the street. And if your plan is to avoid getting painted….good luck.

It sounds insane. And frankly that’s because it is insane. I mean, this isn’t Tom Sawyer painting; it’s a beautiful mess of (controlled) chaos. But SAB Street Painting is also one of my favorite times to be a Bulldog. We are all bonded by our fondness for and participation in this awesome ritual. While other schools may have their traditions, nobody else has street painting. It’s a time to celebrate the upcoming week of Relays athletics and campus events, but more so it’s a time to celebrate the unique, quirky, fun that is Drake University. Above all, the Street Painting reveals the one unquestioned truth of the Drake experience: we’re never closer as a student body than when we’re unapologetically splattering each other with paint.

Blitz Day

Throughout the Drake Relays journey, things get pretty busy. Especially because I’m lucky enough to serve on the Drake Student Activities Board, which plans a lot of the campus and student-focused Relays events. Our kick-off picnic is called Blitz Day and took place last Wednesday (I know, I’m behind. Settle down). This is the day when the SAB Relays theme is revealed and people can begin getting really excited for the coming weeks. So, like the rock star that I am, I’ll give you a behind the scenes look at Blitz Day and how it all went down.

Some campus decorations + an artsy filter

Some campus decorations + an artsy filter

6:45am I arrive at Olmsted to begin decorating (or blitzing) campus. You know I love this school cause there are very few thing that will get me voluntarily up and about at this ungodly hour.

7:00am Hoards of SAB Relays volunteers and committee members cover campus with streamers, pinwheels, and chalk to promote the day’s events.

8:00am While I finish up a poster for another SAB event, the team finishes blitzing. We then all take a bagel break.

8:30am I post about Blitz Day and the campus decorations on SAB’s social media accounts, continuing to take pictures

9:00am-4:00pm I go to work and class, and continue to interact with Drake students on social media, but that’s not really relevant here. Meanwhile, volunteers begin setting up for the Blitz day Picnic in Parents Hall!

4:20pm I arrive to Parents Hall where the Picnic is in full swing! There’s an incredible amount of food, games, decorations, and prizes.

4:30pm I hand out dinner plates to the arriving students while catching up with my favorite Hubbell Dining Hall employee, Marietta. Seriously, she’s the best.

5:30pm The Relays Host and Hostess are announced! Kind of the “King and Queen” of Relays, these two are awesome examples of Bulldogs seniors who’ve made a contribution to the school.

6:30pm The theme (Snapshots of Excellence) and Court Avenue Concert Act (Hoodie Allen) are announced to a lot of excitement from the crowd.

7:00pm We clean up the picnic and put the close on Blitz Day.

7:30pm As I deal with the social media explosion of people who are so excited about the Hoodie Allen concert and theme announcement, we organize and hang the rest of the SAB Relays Events posters.

8:30pm I arrive home after an incredible, exhausting, and exciting Blitz Day

To see more from this year’s Blitz Day, check out some photos on facebook or twitter

Relays Season!

After months of planning, preparation, and anticipation, it’s finally here: Drake Relays! Technically, Relays is a series of track events featuring everyone from local high school athletes to world-class Olympians. They compete right on our campus in some of the coolest displays of athleticism you’ll ever get to see firsthand. But more than track meets, Relays is a time for the Drake community to come together and celebrate why it’s so special to be a Bulldog. Alumni, community members, campus organizations, athletics, and faculty all celebrate over these next couple weeks in unique events you’ll only see at Drake.

A little Relays Bulldogs pride in the middle of campus!

A little (or not so little) Relays Bulldogs pride in the middle of campus!

I guess what I’m tying to say is that Relays is the perfect microcosm of life at this university. The events are fun, spirited, unique, and a little quirky. While Relays always makes me realize how tightknit this campus is as people and organizations come together, it also a time to see just how far the Drake community extends. Alums and athletes come from all over the country, and even all over the world, to come be at Relays. We take over downtown Des Moines with a mini Street Painting event and get to have pole-vaulting at the mall! There’s a Beautiful Bulldog Contest and so many awesome campus events, I can’t even begin to list them.

In the coming weeks, I’ll try to write about all of these events and more. While I’ll do my best to capture what the Drake Relays are really like, there’s really only one way to get know the true Relays: come to Des Moines and experience the fun for yourself!

New Heights

This past weekend I found myself on the precipice of the unknown. Literally on the precipice. Of a 30 foot ladder. And, yes, I did look down.

You see, I was volunteering with other Drake Habitat for Humanity members to help rehab a pretty, old home in the Drake neighborhood. Through all the structural work had already been completed, we were there to paint the exterior and spruce it up a bit. Honestly, I felt pretty good when I heard our task. I mean I’ve gotten to pick up some incredible skills like shaping siding, caulking, and supporting a foundation through Habitat work. But there’s also just something comforting about good, old-fashioned painting. It’s easy, it’s simple, and you can see the results of your work right away.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that they needed someone to paint the top potion of the house, right under the roof. And thanks to my poorly timed can-do attitude, that person was gonna be me. I don’t have a crippling fear of heights, but I don’t exactly love them either. And as I crawled my way up that giant, seemingly wobbly ladder, it struck me that this was a somewhat uncharacteristic move for me. Just three years ago, I could never imagine myself being the one to volunteer to climb the biggest ladder in the world (basically) and reach out over the edges. I don’t want to overstate my bravery in this situation. I’m not Batman, and I was just painting a house. But then again, I’ve never even seen Batman paint, so you tell me who’s the hero.

The point is that I did something different, something a little bold. But isn’t that what college is all about? I think I can speak for myself and my Drake classmates when I say that we’re here to test our limits, to push ourselves, and try things we never thought possible. For some of us that might mean discovering an entire new major and making the switch from Pharmacy to PR. Others might find their passion in extracurriculars with rock climbing or an a cappella group. Maybe it’s even the experience of meeting new friends that causes people to grow and expand their boundaries.

Whatever the experiences, none of us is the same person we were when we arrived on this campus. Being a Bulldog forces you to grow and change in ways you never imagined. So, expect the unexpected, and know that sometimes the best experiences come from deciding to just climb the ladder and see what happens.