KOKOMO, Ind. — Cougar spirit was on full display at one of the biggest events of the year at IUPUI.
A team from Indiana University Kokomo’s Women in Business student organization (WIB) represented the campus Saturday (September 24) in the IUPUI Regatta, an annual canoe race and festival in downtown Indianapolis on the canal.
“I think it’s important for us to be represented in events like these, to show how great our small campus is,” said Ginger Slisher, who, together with Alexis Pier, Brianna Smitley, and Elizabeth Smith, participated on the team, with Lia Roudebush also practicing with them.
“I know the other campuses are much larger, so it’s nice we can participate in their events to show we are small but mighty,” the Fulton resident said. “I think seeing IU President (Pamela) Whitten and being able to talk to her and get a photo was a huge opportunity and shows her that we are involved and love IU.”
Their team finished fourth in the Campus Connections category, for teams not from IUPUI. More importantly, they finished dry — a great feat for a team of novice rowers.
“Our goal was not to tip the canoe,” said Smith, from Logansport. “We didn’t care where we finished as long as we didn’t tip over.”
WIB sponsor Gloria Preece, assistant dean of the School of Business, encouraged them to compete, after receiving the invitation from colleagues at the Indianapolis campus. After watching videos from previous races, they thought it looked like fun, and decided to give it a try.
The race, which raises scholarship money, includes four-member teams. Two begin the race, paddling a steel canoe about a quarter mile down the canal, where they disembark, the second pair jump in, and return to the start/finish line, as they are timed.
Teams compete in categories including IUPUI male, IUPUI female, IUPUI coed, and campus connection. After their first race, they visited the festival, in Military Park, which included a mechanical shark, food trucks, bounce houses, and more.
After coming in second in the preliminary races to earn a spot in the afternoon finals, they placed fourth.
“It was definitely an experience,” said Smitley, from Kokomo. “It was something I’ve never done before, and I would do it again.”
“It was a lot of fun, and something I never expected to do,” she said, adding that a highlight of the day for her was having her picture taken with the university president.
They hope to return in 2023 and bring more IU Kokomo participants to cheer for each other.
Slisher said it was an honor to represent the campus in the larger IU community.
“We’ve really grown over the past couple of years, and it was exciting to see we were able to go outside our comfort zones and try something new,” she said. “We were proud to show our school spirit.”