School’s out for the summer and everyone knows what that means. It means that it is time to look back and reflect on the past eight months at the University of Illinois. Everyone has their own top moments, but here are mine. This is the third time I have made a top moments list and I am a little bit biased, but that is why it is my blog post. Anyways, here we go:
#7: Is this Real Life?
I grew up on American Pie. You know… the comedy series that started with an original cast and then kept breaking down every year until the only recurring character was Jim’s dad, Mr. Levenstein.
Anyways, I learned pretty early on that while movies try to emulate life, life very rarely matches movies. In three years at college, I have never witnessed a party similar to what was displayed in American Pie. My lack of fraternity experience could play a role in this, but up until now the raging keggers with the barely-clad women have not been something experienced. Now, that did not really change this year. Club parties did not transform into this, however one of my friends, Al (Nega-Sny)der, and I stumbled into a situation one time and this is the story.
It was early in the school year. We were coming back from the ARC from a long bike ride on the stationary bikes to make up for missing long runs (due to my back problems…) and were walking along our block. While our block has the occasional hecklers, there really is nothing out of the ordinary that ever happens. This day changed that though. As we passed the senior house next door to our apartments, we noticed a commotion. All of the guys (like 40) were on the porch harassing an apartment across the street. As we glanced up, we noticed that there were a lot of girls in this apartment… a lot of girls not wearing much clothing. Somehow these guys from across the street had harassed them into flashing their breasts many times at them and we happened to walk by in the cross-fire.
I do not want to go into too many details, but I have never seen Al Snyder with such a big smile plastered on his face in his life. The best part was the old guy walking on the sidewalk in front of us, about 30 feet behind his wife. I guess she somehow had not noticed all this, or she was actively avoiding the situation. But her husband sure was not.
Many have days have passed since that fateful afternoon and everytime we walk by that window, expecting the same scene, Al and I are sorely disappointed. However, for that one day, life was like an American Pie movie.
#6 A Night at the Inn
This was a recent addition to the list. For the last month or so, some friends and I (led by Erin Murphy) have started going to the Illini Inn. From the outside, the Inn looks like a pretty run-down building falling apart at the seams. From the inside, the inn still looks like a pretty run-down building falling apart at the seams, but decorated with a ton of Chicago sports pictures and posters. There is something about it that is a little endearing though.
Every Monday the Inn hosts Trivia night. I have only been to one of the trivia nights, but that night was one of the best of the semester. For me, the night started around 9:00 when Henry and I showed up to meet Erin, her roommates, and Jorg. Trivia started at 9:30 and throughout the game, pitchers of Budweiser and Old Style along with Apple pie shots (supplied by the bartender, Mike) were flowing. Between every round, I was entrusted with the music, which was Mike’s first mistake. During the first break, Photograph by Nickelback went on and people were very mad. The second break showcased Scott Stapp’s vocals on Higher and after that I lost my music privileges. Anyways, we were a consistent group, but in the end we lost to another team. After that the bar started emptying out for the most part, except our group minus Henry who had an 8 AM decided to stick around. Around 12:30, Jorg and I decided to go to Geovanti’s to get some of their famous/infamous chicken tenders. I have been told to try these for about a year now and they did not disappoint me. Eating them sober would probably be a mistake, or at least comparable to DP Dough, but eating them a little intoxicated pushed them over the edge.
The night rolled on. Around 2, Second Story, the pizza place above the Illini Inn closed, and we were bombarded by a second round of food by them (for free.99). The rest of the night consisted of more drinks and a couple games of Horse Darts. We left around 3:30, an hour and a half after it closed and then did a few other shenanigans and went home.
I’ve been thinking about that night and I guess the reason I thought it was so special was because I thought there would not be that many nights like that left in college. I have one year of college left. Jorg and Erin graduated (while Erin is staying here for grad school) and Henry graduates next semester. They are some of my best friends that I have made over the last few years and not having Jorg around next year is going to be especially hard since we have been running/lifting buddies for so long. Intimate nights like these with a great group of friends are few and far-between, but I am looking forward to making the most of them when we come back to school next year.
# 5: Unofficial
This was the first Unofficial on campus that I was really able to enjoy and because of that I do not really remember much besides that it was great. Anyways, here are some photos:
Peanut Butter is a Classic Hiccups Cure
Michelle’s Pre-game. Forest Green Pants
#4: NIRCA NATIONALS & ITC Block
NIRCA Nationals was everything our season was building towards. We went through a big transition from last year to this year with our club. We lost our coaches, our President, and the rest of our executive board and very strong senior class from last year. So how were we going to recover? From the start, it was not easy. A lot of people on the team were having trouble with their training. Then we started figuring things out. We found a way to make a ton of money selling stuff at football games, which also really brought together the guys who were doing it. We made our way to Iowa State’s home course and secured second place with Chris DeSilva winning the race. Then we all drove to Hershey in the vans again. The trip there was a lot of fun and was a good way to boost camaraderie. We made it to Pennsylvania with all of our staches in check.
Unfortunately, things did not quite go our way that day. The men’s team placed 4th and the women’s team placed 7th — not exactly what our goals were going into the season. But we all still came together and competed well after all of the changes that occurred from one season to the other.
At the end of the season, we had our first IXC barcrawl. Now during the season, some of the veterans came together and introduced a game called Connections and the I-T-C block to the team. Well by the end of the season, that chant had evolved into a monstrous roar that almost shut down FireHaus. That night we all had a night to remember, albeit a bittersweet night for not taking home the two titles like we did the year before.
# 3: DIII Nationals
So everybody who reads my blog knows my friend Jackie. She was one of the main contributors in the Real Illinois over the summer and we kept tracking her progress through the end of her cross-country season. I was fortunate to get to see her race twice during the season (at Terre Haute both times, the second being Nationals.) Anyways, for the first meet I took Jorg and Mark Hayes with me and we had a pretty good time in the car and after when Jorg was overjoyed finding a salamander he had never uncovered in person. At nationals, I drove with Michelle because fall break had started for us, and her presence helped me not run the car off the road after a long night of Post-Nats shenanigans.
So, we got there in time to watch the race. And, it was awesome. After not being projected to be in the top 20, Trinity’s team ended up finishing in 12th with a pretty solid 1-5 spread. Jackie was fifth for the team and watching her finish down the final straight brought me back to the summer. I ran with her occasion, but she put in all the hard work and it was great to see all the hard work pay off. Unfortunately, this summer we will not be able to run as often together as she will be in Texas (see more in The Real Illinois). But the results of her season make me want to work harder, but smarter than last summer and hopefully this time will pay off.
#2: The Mizzou Trip
This overnight trip was awhile in the making. My friend, Mike Brassea, started going to Missouri this year after two years at Joliet Junior College. On the first day of spring break, I decided to drive down to Columbia with Michelle to go visit. It was a four hour trip there, but it passed pretty quickly. Luckily, when we arrived, it turned out to be one of the nicest days of the year as it was 65 and sunny. We met up with Mike as soon as we got there and then went to Which Wich (a classic choice). After that, the festivities begun. We made the tour of campus, ultimately ending up at one of Mike’s friends where we played Super Smash Bros.
After that, we headed to Shakespeare’s with our pockets full of PBR. It was fun just kicking back and hanging out with Mike as I finally got to see what his collegiate experience has been like so far. Around 11 or 12, I met up with my oldest friend Dan. I ended up staying back at his place and we got to reflect on what’s been going on each other’s lives for the last couple years. After he went to sleep, I ended up staying up with his roommates and explored what was happening outdoors as there was a lot of chaos at 3 in the morning in Columbia.
The next day we drove back to Mike’s to say bye and quickly hit the road. After stopping at the worst McDonald’s I have ever been to, mainly because of one drunk/stoned/cracked-out employee, Michelle and I headed back to the suburbs jamming to Nickelback and the like. Overall, it was a great experience and ends at #2 on my top moments.
#1B: The Toronto Trip
This past October, Brendan, Andrew, Adam, and I all flew out to Toronto for the Toronto Marathon. We decided to do it over the summer and it turned out to be a trip we will remember the rest of our lives. On the way out, we took a plane through Porter Airlines, which was pretty neat. The flight was fairly quick and the airport we ended up at was pretty hip.
After leaving the lobby, we took a short ferry across 150 feet of water and met up with Adam at the Holiday Inn Express we were staying at. From there, we hit the town. One of the first things we did was go get some poutine. If you do not know what Poutine is, then you are doing it wrong. While it is not served at any place that I have been to in America, Poutine is a delicacy found pretty often throughout Canada. We ended up eating it several times.
The next thing we did was hit up some of the pubs in Toronto. The drinking age is not 21 in Canada, so we were able to legally buy alcohol, which was pretty neat. On the second day, we walked around some more and explored one of the bigger food markets in the world. We also went to a brewery, where we were unfortunately turned away from being able to go on a tour because of the amount of people.
On Sunday, Adam ran. This was a really cool experience because we also were able to explore a lot of the course. We planned to meet Adam at every 10k mark to give Adam a drink and a gel and it was really exciting to see the race develop over the course of 26.2 miles. Adam ended up finishing in a new personal best for himself, which made the trip completely worth it.
After the race, the last thing we did was get poutine one more time. This time, we got to see something never done before on live television. On this day, Felix Baumgartner decided to perform the longest free fall ever performed by a human. It took awhile for the rest of the people in the poutine joint to notice what was happening, but I don’t think that anyone will ever forget when Felix took that first step and fell back to Earth.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip with some of my best friends and I cannot wait to see what we decide to do next. Maybe Montreal awaits?
Whaaaat? Two #1 moments? Yes indeed. This was the second time we decided to go to Breckenridge, Colorado. Just like last year, we stayed in the same building on the same mountain. This year, we brought around 15 new people, including my friend John Brassea. The car ride out was not as eventful as the year before when we got caught in a blizzard, but stopping in Cozad, Nebraska was just as exciting as the year before.
When we arrived, we split into two different condos and it quickly became apparent what our apartment would become infamous for. Within a day or two, we decided between the two different condos that we would be Hoodrat Hotel, led by Bert and John. The other hotel became Hotel Responsibility, but the best times came when we all hang out together, especially when Sam ‘Old Man Ricker’ led us in a rousing chorus of ‘Hole in My Bucket.’
Hoodrats in action
Looking back, the trip had everything. We had cars crashing, broken bones, high speed collisions, black-outs, hook-ups, concussions, jalapeno challenges, confession hour, and more. I was proud that I was able to improve my own skiing and consistently go down some black diamonds, albeit a little bit slower than some of the other people. These two trips to Breckenridge have been two of the most fun weeks in my life. I can’t thank Andrew enough for setting it up and for everyone else for attending it and making such a worthwhile trip. New friendships were made and older friendships were strengthened. It was just a wonderful time and definitely the top moment of my school year.
Illini bossing around NIRCA Conference
WashU/NIRCA Track Nats
Kevin Hearne Memes
Kevin Hearne facebook page
Tenacious D/The Black Keys covers with Henry