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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Relays 2010: Sparkle Ponies will be whinnying

I have my prized possession proudly displayed in my office. It is a plastic rendering of a horse’s rear end sitting atop a roll of toilet paper, and it reminds me every day that I am a winner.

This is not simply a beautiful piece of art, but it is, in fact, the trophy that was awarded for winning 1st Place at Grinnell Relays 2009. Of course, last year’s impressive Relays win was a team effort, and it would be inconsiderate and tremendously egotistical for me to claim sole credit for our victory. On the other hand, I’m the one with the trophy and the column, so the rest of those fools can wallow in obscurity.

Looking back over my first two years here, I can honestly say that Grinnell Relays was the most fun experience I’ve had. (The International Bacon Day Celebration is a close second. The times I’ve been in my office and heard students on South campus blasting tracks from Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic 2001” are all tied for third.)

When I agreed to join a group of first years and a few other professors on a Relays team, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I was given a T-shirt and promised free beer, I figured I’d show up. When I saw Prof. Wayne Moyer light a toilet on fire to signal the start of the competition, I knew I was in the right place.

What made Grinnell Relays so much fun for me was not just that my team, The Sparkle Ponies, won most of the major events, but that we only needed to cheat a few times to do so. We won the Social Construction event in which we had to represent “race” using only marshmallows and toothpicks (I didn’t contribute to the project so much as heckle the opposing teams), the event where we had to form a math equation using the bodies of all of the team members, and the untying of the Human Knot. We would have won the Paper Airplane Toss, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.

Almost as valuable and important as winning (which my team did, by the way. We won.) was the way in which the spirit of Grinnell was very much on display during that cool, rainy day in late April. The range of events forced participants to exercise both their bodies (tug-of-war, the DAG-inspired swordfights) and their brains (the aforementioned Social Construction and math equation events), with creativity and ingenuity being encouraged and rewarded.

I find it surprising that more students and faculty don’t get as excited as I do about Grinnell Relays. Grinnell Relays is billed as “The Original Community Builder,” and it can be exactly that. I felt an important bond with those students and faculty who braved the weather and the mud and my obnoxious-but-always-hilarious trash-talking in order to socialize and compete and celebrate our community through sport. As the semester hurries toward Hell Week and Finals Week, the Relays are a great chance to recognize those values we hold most dear: camaraderie, teamwork and drinking beer at 10 o’clock in the morning.

As a first-year professor, I particularly appreciated the opportunity to interact with students outside of the classroom and to get to know a variety of students who I had not had in my courses. It is important for students and professors to remember that in addition to recognizing and performing our respective roles in terms of formal education, we are all part of a larger community that is built on trust and mutual respect. At its best, Grinnell Relays can be a carnivalesque experience that fosters a tighter community across the campus by allowing students and professors to work together toward a shared goal in the spirit of healthy competition.

Of course, for most of those competing, the goal of winning will never be achieved as long as they’re facing the mighty Sparkle Ponies.

Allow me to conclude by briefly addressing those members of the campus community who are positive, enthusiastic and caring enough to come out for Relays tomorrow:

You are all punks. The Sparkle Ponies are #1. We won it all last year and we will win it all again this year.

Our very name strikes fear and confusion into the hearts of our adversaries. Granted, it’s usually more confusion than fear, but confusion can be very disorienting. And it is when you are at your most disoriented that the Sparkle Ponies will gallop toward victory, and you won’t even notice when we’re cheating.

Do you have what it takes to compete with the Sparkle Ponies? Can you roll with a bunch of second-year students and a guy who reads Middle English for a living? Will any team but the Sparkle Ponies be taking home the 2010 Grinnell Relays trophy? The answer to all of these questions is “neigh.”

You might tell yourself that coming in second place would be respectable, but we all know that second place is just a fancy term for “not winning.”
The only thing Chuck Norris fears is fear itself. And the Sparkle Ponies.

I’m not going to bother quoting Ezekiel 25:17, but you know I‘m thinking it and I know you’re thinking about me thinking it. Think about it.

I’m looking forward to the Grinnell Relays, and for all of my bravado and machismo, however well-deserved it is, I really appreciate the chance to play and compete and generally have a good time.

I just hope our good time culminates in me getting another trophy to display in my office, something that reinforces, at least in my own mind, the fact that I’m a winner, even if means that I end up looking like a horse’s ass.

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