It’s that time again. The time to pay honor to the moments that make us all look back and say, wow that was one memorable year. It is hard to believe that I am halfway done with my undergraduate education. On a personal level, I will always look back at this year as the year that I started growing up. There are lessons that I have learned from this year that I will be able to carry with me the rest of my time here as well as post-collegiate life. This will also be the year that I look back upon and seeing a team come together from all areas, experience adversity, overcome that adversity, and then top it all by winning a national championship. It was wonderful to be a part of and if we can carry the attitude of this year to our future seasons, we will continue to be champions for many years.
Now, on to the countdown:
#7. The Nega-Sny
Going into the beginning of this year, we were excited to see how our club would continue to grow. Freshman year the club doubled in size so we wanted to see if that trend would continue. Long story short, it did. However, before quad day or the first couple weeks where we had the opportunity to see who would stick around, we knew of a certain individual who for sure was going to be a part of the club. This was exciting, except for the fact that we did not like him. We did not have a very good reason for it, only that his running log was arrogant. It angered one alum so much, Sean Berbert #thecallout, that he would be flustered at the very mention of “Al Snyder.” Infamous posts include the following:
5/25/11 Ran the 2 mile midway loop twice. I just can’t seem to find an easier pace by myself (6:54 per mile). If I slow up, everything starts to feel like 8 minute pace. Hopefully the run with David tomorrow will even out my average per mile, considering he hasn’t run since cross. If he gets competitive though, imma have ta drop tha hammer on his azz.
Anywho, after the summer eventually came to an end and we got to meet Al Snyder. The first workout, true to form, he hammered and paid the price. We didn’t know what to make of this guy. But then, we got to know him. Once that occurred, he went from Nega-Sny to Big Al to Modest Al. He’s a good guy and can fold a mean taco. So, there is no actual moment here I suppose, just a collection of moments that he has been a part of including being one of my group members in cross country. It will be fun hanging out with him the next couple years. Stay modest Al.
#6 Move In Day
This moment is pretty self-explanatory. It was the first time that Henry, Brendan, Evan, and I were going to be home owners. Maybe we were not paying it out of our own pocket, but still this apartment, the 304 in the 903 was officially ours. It is one of the first steps in our journey to adulthood. Anyway, we celebrated that night with some other people. I do not have the clearest memory of that night, but I ended up laying in front of the FIJI house for about a half hour shirtless and then proceeded to get sick back home. We hoped that that night would and would not start a trend. Hopefully, it would be the start of a ton of fun we would have: it was. And also, it would have been nice if that was the only time I got sick here… actually it was in case anyone is interested.
But, this is a moment mainly because of the significance for ourselves. Four best friends, living together, in our own place. What more could we want?
#5. Enter the Andre
I think we all could compile a top seven list of moments solely involving our Brazilian import, Andre Pinto.
My first experience with Andre was at Jack Skelton’s apartment. He was half-asleep, but most definitely drunk and from the sound of it, had to go to 6 Flags the next day. He got increasingly affectionate towards everyone at the apartment as the night progressed, and that was that. Needless to say, he did not remember me afterwards. The next time I met him led to the same result.
One day though, I met him sober and we hit it off ever since. From his whistling to his drunkenness to his calls for body shots, I think everyone will remember Andre’s antics. He injected a ton of life and energy and in his one year with the team, he became an integral member. He returns to Brazil next year where good things await him, but he will always be a part of ITC.
#4. Club Relays
Illinois Club Relays are one of the high points of our season, because it allows us to assert our dominance over the rest of club track and field. Also, because we party like champions afterward. This year was no different. 18 clubs appeared this year to compete, and were treated to an excellent meet coordinated by the efforts of Mark Talbot, Eric Vedder, and many others. We took home the title again which was to be expected, but this is the first time our club started to come together. Everyone was pulling for each other and helping out where they could. That set a trend for the rest of the season.
Just running a meet, no big deal
#3 Cross Country Nationals
Winning nationals was a dream held by our coach, Jake Englander, for the last few years. We had come up short the last few seasons and as this was Jake’s last season of the club, all focus was upon winning the title. It would require hard work and a total team effort, but was not outside the realm of possibility.
I guess from there, it started in the summer. All of the individuals who put in the miles to be the best they could be. From there, we came together: our team nearly doubled in size, the women’s team was actually a women’s team. We had our social events to put everyone on the same page, and then we had Jake, who kept us all in check and put our focus on the national meet.
Our drive to nationals was unique because we tried something new. We rented vans and drove 65 athletes and parents halfway across the country to North Carolina. We were entertained by the Brothers family along the way. Then we arrived in NC. We observed the course and noted its nuances the night before and then got a delicious fried buffet meal for dinner…
On race day, the tension was high but we were ready to go. The prodigy, Mike Frigo came in third overall and first for our team. Then came the president, Aaron Silver, followed by my very own roommate, Brendan McDonnell. Ron Revord secured fourth place and Matt Birkel snuck in for fifth on the team. After all the post-race commotion, we eventually found out that we were the 2011 NIRCA National Champions on the men’s side.
However, the men’s race was only half the story. A very strong showing from our women’s team yielded the same results, albeit closer. The women won by two points which showed how far they had come in one year. Jess and Jake both deserve a bunch of credit for the great coaching that they put in.
Even more memorable?
Breckenridge was an experience. 26 people on the team plus Chunks (Matt Gazdziak) decided to have some fun over winter break. All of this was set in motion by our favorite tech guy, Andrew Gazdziak. There were no adults allowed, just a bunch of college kids about to get rowdy in Colorado. Originally there were going to be 12-15 people who went, but on some last second scrapping, we gathered 27 people.
On December 30th, our caravan set off westward. I’m sure that every car has their own stories to tell, but one thing that we all share is our experience at exit … let’s say, 381. It smelled bad. Especially when you add Adam Sukienniek’s mustard farts. We ran into a blizzard on the way there upon entering Colorado which made for quite the entertainment. But, we got through it, drove down the slippery slopes in the mountains and finally settled in at our lodge in Breckenridge. That first night there was New Year’s Eve, and there were plenty of antics. The GOPRO was taken out and the night of debauchery was recorded. We celebrated the new year as a team and set in motion the events that were going to take place.
Our first day on the slopes was great. It took me about a half hour to get down from our cabin the first time, but with Kelsey Seiler by my side, we finally made it down. I improved throughout the week which made skiing more fun. What was rough was the fact that it did not snow in our time there so the slopes were very icy. Everyone had a blast though.
My standard position
As the week went along, our talents improved (except for the people who were injured) and our fun maintained. I think we all found out some information that we did not want to know (or maybe did) about Brett the Jet… We solved some puzzles, played some pictionary man and explored the town. It was great fun and an incredible experience to have with the members of the team. It definitely brought the members who went closer together and I think played a part in our success this season.
#1 Track Nationals
When I originally conceived the thought of doing the top seven moments again, I really wanted to put winning the cross country national title number one for all that it stood for. But then our track season happened. What took place was one of the greatest things that I have ever been apart of. We all came together and supported each other in all of our endeavors and took home the titles. In my opinion, the titles were secondary to the growth of our team. As Jake pointed out, we came from a small group of individuals and now look: we have 80+ people contributing in some way or another to ITC. Even with the adversity of this season, we stuck together and came out on top. Now, we reap the rewards, and that does not just include holding the title of the best club in the land. It shows in us having 20-30 people coming to play volleyball for a week straight during finals week. It shows in all the fun that we have with each other. When I look back at my sophomore year of college, the last month of the season is going to stand out above all for everything that took place.
Honorable Mentions: Every one of Theadorable’s birthdays
Getting rocked on MCB 250 Exams
Girls are the worst
The Real Snydawg’s increasing snyness
DP… and the calzones too
Unofficial (drinking dip spit)
The Meat Log
Dinner at the original 204 one last time
Elections- the New Regime