Audience members cheer on tuggers, give support

Megan Ivey, Associate News Editor

While fraternity and sorority teams strain over the long pull of the tug-of-war matches, fellow fraternity and sorority members devote time and effort into supporting their tuggers.

Members make t-shirts and posters, as well as sing chants for the tuggers, making the Tugs matches a bonding and energetic experience.

The Campus Pond area surrounding the tug lanes filled with spectators for each tug match. Audience members packed the two sets of bleacher seating on either side of the pond, and most of the audience could be found cheering from the sidelines, as close as they were permitted to stand.

During Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity’s Little Men’s Division semi-final tug Friday, Ben Grapperhaus, a freshman Sigma Alpha Epsilon member, did not stop chanting throughout the 2:34 tug, with phrases such as “Keep pulling,” and “you’ve got this.”

“It’s my job as an audience member to make sure to tell them they’re not done,” Grapperhaus said. “I want to tell them to keep right on track, and I absolutely think it helps them.”

Although Sigma Alpha Epsilon lost the semi-final to Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, Alex Wood, a senior Sigma Alpha Epsilon tugger, said hearing his team chant helped him.

“It definitely gives you a nice extra boost to keep you going,” Wood said.

Teams who already conceded still come to Campus Pond to their support for other teams.

Jen Rodriguez, a sophomore Alpha Phi sorority member, stood on the sidelines with approximately 10 sorority sisters for their brother fraternity, Sigma Pi.

Many of the Alpha Phi members held signs for the fraternity tuggers, each with a phrase that rhymed with a tugger’s name.

“We spent an hour and a half on them,” she said. “It’s our way to show we support them.”

Along with Alpha Phi’s signs of encouragement, Sigma Pi spectators were one of the loudest crowds, involving group chants and, when the tuggers pulled backward out of eyesight, moved down the sidelines along with their tuggers.

Rodriguez said the bond between the fraternity and sorority is one that dates back to the beginning of Tugs.

Sigma Pi members did not make signs for Alpha Phi when competing, but did support them in other ways, such as training together.

“It’s been like this for years, since Tugs began,” she said. “ Both teams train together, help each other, and we celebrate afterward.”

Grace Narcisi and Molly Lucas, captains for the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority tug team, said when tugging, nothing, including the audience members, is apparent –– only the rope and their coaches.

“Everything is white noise,” Narcisi said.

“Yeah, you have to find your own motivation and block everything out,” Lucas said. “And listen to the coaches supportive messages, telling us to keep breathing.”

Even so, Liz Martinez, a sophomore member of Alpha Sigma, Alpha said it was important to be there for her team.

“As soon as they start stepping, we start chanting,” she said.

Alli Dart, a junior member of Kappa Delta sorority, said she made a sign because her best friend and “little” was tugging.

“The poster is an inside joke, incorporating the Kardashian sisters ” she said. “I have to let them know I support them.”

Even as Kappa Delta lost the semi-final Tugs match, the sorority members waited for the tuggers and cheered them on as they made their way off of the field.

Arm in arm, they sang a chant, with lyrics “sisters standing close by my side,” circling the tuggers and congratulating the team’s efforts.


Megan Ivey can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].