Friday, January 31, 2014

Scot Spirit Ignites

By John Buckley ’15

A rampant lion was carved out of the bonfire wood, blazing. Students mustered their presence to the lawn, holding signs of their residence hall. Overhead, a blue and white balloon archway stood as the emcees took the stage. The students, athletes, faculty and staff of Gordon College came together on Friday, January 24, unified on the Frost Hall lawn for a special moment of celebration. “Scots! Scots! Scots! Scots!” senior Pierre Celestin led everyone in one big cheer. Those wispy polar vortex temperatures didn’t stand a chance. 

We were celebrating the perseverance, the teamwork, and the leadership of our athletes—those accomplishments that are symbolic of our history and our vision as a school.
The rally was orchestrated thanks to the dedication of several campus groups that joined together. “It was really born out of a desire to make something big that would bring together the winter and spring sports,” said Gordon College Student Association (GCSA) president Branden Figueroa ’14. Also among those responsible for putting on the event were Associate Vice President for Student Life Jennifer Jukanovich ’94, and Highlander Club Assistant Mechelle Brown of Athletics. “We recognized there was kind of disconnect between athletes and students,” Brown notes. 

“We have 20% students involved in athletics,” Jukanovich reiterates, “and we don’t always have this type of opportunity for them.” They saw the need, and did something to give students the rally they were waiting for. Though a common sentiment, “build it and they will come,” held true here. Thanks to the assistance of groups like Physical Plant, The Pit, and GCSA, the rally soon become a reality. 

The turnout blew everyone away. As Brown recalls, “The yelling, the screaming, the cheers—students felt like they were a part of something, something big.” That something big was a unique, timely recognition of Gordon’s athletic teams. Sophomore Men's Basketball player Udoku Obiora was among the many student athletes who took a break from their busy schedules to participate. “I thought it was a great thing the school did for the athletic department,” he says “It kind of brought back that school spirit we need so much.” 

Pierre’s brilliant rallying of the crowd led into inspirational addresses from GCSA president Branden Figueroa, Gordon’s VP of Communications Rick Sweeney ’85, President D. Michael Lindsay, and Jennifer Jukanovich. “I’m a big supporter of having more of this. I think we need to do more to show support for our athletes and teams,” says Sweeney.

“Athletics is an incredible unifier,” Jukanovich noted. “In a wonderful confluence of events, including the March on Gordon [a commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, held on campus earlier this month], and the Together as One chapel theme, there has been this culmination of different student groups seeking more unity and we’re glad that the rally was a part of that.” Men’s Basketball team captain and senior Shaun Roach echoed the power of the event, “Seeing all the athletes together gets people excited about our teams again. I think sometimes we can be too busy to care, but this reminds us to care.”

So will we see another rally in the fall, especially as Gordon’s 125th anniversary lies around the corner? 

“This is where we started, and this is where we can go,” Brown says. “We’re getting ready to put on the war paint.”

John Buckley ’15 is a junior business administration and communication arts double major at Gordon College and the Presidential Fellow for Rick Sweeney, Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communications. Depending on the weather, his interests are theology, photography, a good read of Sherlock Holmes, or wiping out on his longboard. 

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