Setting the Record Straight: Petrels of Fire Winner Mark Olas ’01

Mark Olas '01, the Petrels of Fire record holder

Last month, our campus celebrated Oglethorpe Day with the annual Petrels of Fire race around the quad in an attempt to beat the 12 chimes of the carillon bells. Another year went by without a “winner”, but unbeknownst to this reporter, there has indeed been someone who achieved this feat, and it’s time the story of this overlooked legend is told to all.

In 1998, Mark Olas ’01, who was a member of Oglethorpe’s soccer team and still holds the school’s record for the 400m, accomplished what many considered impossible: he crossed the finish line within 30.5 seconds, becoming the first and only Petrel to ever win the race.

Mark Olas '01 in his soccer jersey

“It was the only other time the race was run at 1:00 p.m. rather than at noon,” explained Cross Country Coach Bob Unger, who hosts the race each year. “The clock had not been properly reset as it was this year to ring twelve times at 1:00 p.m., (so) a former music instructor of the university (rang) the chimes manually.”

Coach Unger also had his stopwatch ready to ensure that the race lasted a full 30.92 seconds, which was the time allotted in previous years. But the manual ringing finished in less than 28 seconds, meaning that racers had nearly 3 more seconds to run after the bells had stopped ringing.

“As the crowd counted down the chimes and reached twelve—and no one had finished—a moan went up,” said Coach Unger. “I looked up to see Mark Olas leading the group to the finish. When he crossed the line, I stopped my watch at 30.5 seconds. He had beaten the bells!”

Sadly, few people realized Mark’s achievement that day, as most spectators assumed the race was already over.  But Mark’s victory is certainly worth remembering and acknowledging—the only time in Oglethorpe history that the feat has been accomplished.  It might be 15 years late, but congratulations, Mark! May your win inspire other students to attempt the impossible, to compete with their hearts, and to soar into victory.

Oglethorpe Day: A Beloved Tradition Grows

The Petrels of Fire Race ca. 2012

Oglethorpe Day is an annual celebration of Oglethorpe University’s namesake, and as Dean Michelle Hall puts it, a “pride-in-my-school-and-organizations day.”

And this year, there are numerous ways to show your school pride. Student organizations (and maybe even some staff and faculty) will be decorating shopping carts for the parade of shopping cart floats (contact Kendra Hunter for more details). And, to celebrate President Schall’s affinity for wacky socks, the Programming Board is sponsoring a sock decorating event today in The Petrel’s Nest. Then, at 12:45 p.m. tomorrow, on Wednesday, February 13, put on your craziest socks and head to the quad for the exhilarating annual Petrels of Fire race!

While the race usually begins at noon sharp, this year it will begin at 1:00 p.m., due to class scheduling… which doesn’t mean that the bell will only ring once! It will ring 12 times, and runners will race around the quad in hopes of arriving back before the last bell tolls. To my knowledge, no one has ever won this race—maybe you will be the first?

This year's Oglethorpe Day speaker: President Schall

After the race, a surprise guest (a local celebrity!) will lead attendees to Conant Performing Arts Center for the Oglethorpe Day annual address. This year’s speech will be delivered by our own President Schall on the topic of “Non nobis solum (not for ourselves alone): What is the Role of a University President in Liberal Society?”

“We have a very student-centered president,” said Dean Hall.  “Students know they are known and loved by their president…The theme (of his speech) will focus on how to make a difference, and that’s something we want all our students to think about.”

The occasion will include The Ogletones, our new a cappella group, and end with Oglethorpe’s Alma Mater and Fight Song (The Stormy Petrel March), courtesy of OU Winds and Singers. Attendees are then invited to enjoy Coke floats and peach cobbler and ice cream, all served in observance of the day’s Georgia theme.

“We’re building some more traditions into this tradition,” said Dean Hall, who went onto explain that the Presidents of other schools and organizations will be recognized during the event, and that the class with the most participants will win a prize. “Come if you want to support your class, if you are an athlete or the head of an organization… or if you just want to see what socks Dr. Schall is wearing.”

I know my curiosity has been piqued. Join us at Oglethorpe Day, this Wednesday, February 13th starting at 12:45 p.m. on the quad!

Oglethorpe Celebrates National Girls & Women in Sports Day

As a woman who has been “blessed” with two left feet, butter fingers, and a penchant for laziness, I can honestly say that sports intimidate me. I have always associated sports with winning and being “the best,” two things that are not easily accomplished without the aid of hand-eye coordination. But last week, thanks to the women athletes of OU, I learned something extraordinary about sports and what they have to offer: the real winners in sports are not rewarded with trophies (… though yes, winning trophies can be really great, too!), but with confidence, good health, and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Tennis, lacrosse, basketball and soccer were only a few of the women’s sports teams that came out last week to celebrate the 27th National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This annual event is meant to commend women athletes for their perseverance and excellence in athletics, as well as to encourage other women (and men) to participate in sports.

Tori Van Wyen ’14, a member of the women’s golf team, explained that “it’s a great opportunity for all kinds of kids to be introduced to sports… it’s a great thing for OU and the community.” Coach Cindy Vaios, who organized the event, expressed hope that it would introduce sports to elementary and middle school students, while attracting the interest of OU students.

Area children showed up to the event, all eagerly awaiting their chance to try out the track and field obstacle course, or to throw around a basketball. Oglethorpe athletes were in attendance to help these children learn the ins and outs of playing, and to encourage them to participate on future teams.

“It’s not just about the players,” said Tori.  “It’s about involving the community… These kids might see those female athletes and think, ‘hey, this might be me one day.’”

Athletic Director Becky Hall agrees, admitting that there are some sports that she is just “not good at,” but that it doesn’t stop her from loving sports.  This idea, that there is something for everyone in sports, seemed to be the consensus of all in attendance.

“All of my best friends are on my team,” added Caitlin Hollis ’16, a freshman on the women’s soccer team. “Sports gives you a way to be with other competitive, driven people… (my team) is like a family to me.”

Sydney Sparks '16, a center mid-field player for OU Lacrosse.

A similar sentiment was expressed many times throughout the day by others. Lacrosse player Sydney Sparks ’16 added that the lacrosse team was “like a sisterhood,” and that “playing at the collegiate level is really exciting… I’m excited to be part of a brand new tradition at OU.”

Paolette Matute ’16, a member of the tennis team, referred to tennis as “an empowering princess sport,” before enthusing that “the most important thing, even if you’re not an athlete, is (to) go out and exercise… Get those endorphins running!”

The message of the day was clear, and based on the excited looks on children’s faces, that message was well received: sports are something that everyone should consider trying, as they can offer something worthwhile for everyone. Being active is not solely for athletes, nor are sports enthusiasts solely concerned with winning.  Sports are about camaraderie, growing, and thriving, and the women athletes of OU are not simply looking for teammates; they are looking for friends to join their family through the bond that only sports can offer.

Omicron Delta Kappa Taps 2012 Inductees, Launches Fundraising Campaign

As the holiday season approaches, your thoughts may turn to buying gifts, decorating your homes, or celebrating break with family and friends.   But for me, one thing comes to mind before any thoughts of winter vacation: there is a pig raring to be kissed, and some of you may see me kiss him.

Boar’s Head is an annual OU event centered around the annual induction ceremony of Omicron Delta Kappa, an esteemed leadership society that serves to recognize students, faculty, staff, and alumni for their service in at least one of five key areas.  On November 30th, 17 new members will be inducted into OΔK, including Oglethorpe Trustee Arnold Sidman.

Trustee Arnie Sidman

“Arnie Sidman deserves this honor and we are very happy to recognize him,” says Jef Palframan ’13, current President of Oglethorpe’s OΔK Circle. “(We) are trying to move beyond just students to more faculty, alumni, staff, and trustee members… This shows that leadership doesn’t just start in your junior or senior year. It’s for a lifetime.”

Also being inducted are Dr. Mario Chandler and Dr. Nicholas Maher, alumni Eli Arnold ’06 and staff member Katie Paden.  There are also 12 student inductees: Brittney Blalock ’14, Tirzah Brown ’14, Kirsten Glaeser ’14, Krista Gray ’14, Justin Munson ’14, Corey Ray ’14, Kate Siess ’14, Kendall Burke ’13, Jeet Budha Magar ’13, Marisa Manuel ’13, Caitlyn Mitchell ’13, and Lindsey Mitchell ’13.

In addition, through the end of November, you can assist the OΔK Circle by donating to their fundraising campaign.  The campaign’s purpose is to help Oglethorpe’s OΔK Circle become self sufficient for at least the next five years.  More than half of the $5000 goal has already been achieved, and OΔK hopes to double this goal. OΔK aspires to become self-sufficient and not require SGA funding, because membership is exclusive and extended beyond the student body.


 

If you would like to come to the Boar’s Head Concert & Celebration on November 30th, don’t forget to reserve your ticket by calling 404-504-1074 or visiting the Conant Performing Arts Center box office.