September 17, 2012

Students Vie to Become First Homecoming Champion

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Many will enter. One will win.

The first-ever Homecoming Champion competition kicked off Sunday, with nine contestants sparring in the first two of five challenges in a week-long battle to win the new title.

Champion hopefuls — five male and four female students nominated from the Class of 2013 — will participate in events throughout the week designed to test, among other attributes, their “intellectual, athletic and musical prowess,” according to the Homecoming Steering Committee’s Facebook page. The winner will be announced Friday night at a fireworks and laser lights show at Schoellkopf Stadium.

In addition to being crowned Homecoming Champion, the winner will receive $500 in cash, a $100 bar tab, an iPad, $100 to spend at The Cornell Store, an advertisement in The Sun and a co-D.J. spot on WVBR’s radio show, according to the committee’s Facebook page.

The idea for the competition had been considered beginning last spring and was brought to fruition under the guidance of James Feld ’13, vice president of programming for the committee, according to Geoffrey Block ’14, the committee’s president.

“Originally, [the Homecoming Steering Committee] thought about doing a Homecoming king and queen kind of competition, but then the administration didn’t want just a popularity-based thing,” Block said.

Instead, the Homecoming Steering Committee decided to assess competitors in a greater variety of subjects through tasks ranging from chalkings and rock-climbing to a scavenger hunt and a test on Cornell trivia.

“We wanted people who were active in the community and who represent what Cornell is. They’re fun people who love the school,” Block said of the contestants.

On Sunday, the competitors took to the Lindseth Climbing Wall in Bartels Hall, where they competed in timed trials in a race to the top of the wall.

“I think tonight was successful: We got a great turnout,” Feld said Sunday. “Everyone seemed to be having fun. The competitors enjoyed it, and whether [they] made it to the top of the wall or they didn’t, they all tried their hardest.”

There were approximately 50 people — comprised of each competitor and up to 10 of his or her supporters — present at the event. Members of the Cornell University Wind Ensemble played tunes such as “Give My Regards to Davy” on kazoos during portions of the competition, according to Block.

Andrew Robbins ’13 won the rock-climbing challenge, scaling the wall in 25 seconds.

Robbins’ early victory did not deter other contestants from saying what they would do if they won the competition.

“My birthday is on the 24th, so it’s right after Homecoming. It would be really cool, having a bar tab when I’ll finally be 21 … But I don’t even care too much about the prizes … I kind of just want the title more than anything else,” Kelly Wilcox ’13, another contestant, said.

Brandon Taylor ’13, another competitor, also had ideas of what he would do if he won the competition.

“I’ll donate some of the money to the Paul Schreurs Memorial Program down at the Ithaca Youth Bureau,” Taylor said. “I know a lot of people down there could really use some of the money.”

Another contender, Corey Reed ’13, said that he would probably share the prizes with his supporters if he won.

“I think that I should be champion because I’m just a regular person from the [College of Agriculture and Life Sciences], and I’m proud of who I am. I’m proud of the campus and everything that it involves,” Reed said.

With the chalking and rock-climbing competitions completed, only the scavenger hunt, the Cornell trivia bowl — in which contestants will be tested on their Cornell history — and karaoke night remain.

“I’m most excited for the sing-off Thursday night,” Feld said of the karaoke event. “A lot of [the competitors] have already come up to me and told me that they’re not the greatest singers. But that’s only a portion of it — there’s also theatricality.”

The Homecoming Steering Committee has seen significant online interest in the competition, Block said.

With the competition still in its infancy, the Homecoming Steering Committee’s attitude has been one of, “throw an event and see how it goes,” Block said.

In view of the strongly positive reaction to the event, the Homecoming Champion competition will “definitely, for sure” become a part of Cornell Homecoming tradition, Block added.

The other participants in the Homecoming Champion competition are Ariel Aicher ’13, Nick St. Fleur ’13, Peter Jacobs ’13, Sheila Garcia ’13 and Tajwar Mazhar ’13. St. Fleur is also the science editor of The Sun, and Mazhar and Jacobs are writers on The Sun.

Original Author: Lianne Bornfeld