The Midnight Munch Tradition

The end of the semester at Wabash brings many certainties… final examinations, lots of time in front of the computer, plenty of research time in the library, and a midnight snack on Tuesday evening to provide a break from what can seem to be endless studying.

A record number of Wabash faculty and staff (numbering over 30 strong) gathered to join the crew from the Bon Appétit food service group on campus to serve the traditional Midnight Munch. A total of 230 students braved the cold and gathered in the Sparks Center around 11 p.m. to enjoy plates full of eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and even some fruits and pastries. 

View photos from the Midnight Munch here.

For many — both students and servers — the night is not about the food. It’s about the fellowship. Discussions of classes, winter break plans over the holidays, and the successes and struggles of the fall semester took place in the serving line and at each table. For some it was their final meal on campus before heading home for a well-deserved break and some final holiday shopping. For others, it was a quick repast before heading back to the library to go back to work on those last few pages of a paper due in few short hours.

Wabash Trio Uses Sports to Provide Assistance

Rich Blastic ’82 found himself in an interesting position at the start of the year. As a new member of the school board for the Calvary Christian School in Highland, Indiana, he realized the school would need some assistance in fund raising. Already located in region of Indiana that has seen layoffs, closings, and tough economic times, Blastic turned to familiar territory — sports.

Blastic got together with two former teammates who have kept their hands in the professional sports world. One of his best friends, Dr. Chris Carr ’82, came up with the idea of hosting a sports clinic at the school. Carr was headed to lunch with another former teammate the very day he and Blastic discussed the idea. That teammate was Pete Metzelaars ’82. Carr’s experience as a sports psychologist working with various groups from the US Olympic Ski Team and the Kansas City Royals and Oklahoma City Thunder to Ohio State and other college and professional athletes would be joined by Metzelaars’ knowledge and time spent as a 16-year NFL veteran player and current NFL coach in Indianapolis.

Metzelaars jumped on board from the moment he heard about the plan for a sports clinic.

"The hardest part was finding a date that would work for everyone," Metzelaars said. His duties as the offensive quality control and assistant offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts have increased since the shakeup in the coaching staff with Tom Moore and Howard Mudd. Carr, "One we got the date set, I’ve just been looking forward to helping Rich with the school. They are in a tough situation with the economy the way it is, and I just wanted to help."

Blastic and the rest of the group set aside time on May 30 to conduct the sports clinic.

"Chris is going to speak to the kids, coaches, and parents in attendance about the mental training and psychological strength and skills that go into athletics. We’ll follow that up with Pete sharing his experience as a player. With so many negatives out there in sports, it will be nice to present a positive view of athletics."

If the early word is any indication of how the event will be received, the school should see a major boost in its support.

"The community businesses have really embraced this event," Blastic said. "With two quality gentlemen like Chris and Pete willing to help, it was nice to be able to call the business in the area and hear the owners say they would be happy to be involved. 

"We’ve been able to have businesses provide 10 free tickets to the event for over 20 schools in the area. That means 200 young athletes who might not have had the opportunity to attend based on their home finances. And the money for those tickets goes to Calvary Christian School."

With event on the horizon, Metzelaars was excited for the opportunity to assist.

"The main goal is to help the school," the former Wabash tight end said. "We get an opportunity to use sports and athletics to help kids. We’ll be giving some thoughts, tips, and pointers on a lot of athletic fronts, but we’ll also be providing life lessons and sharing ways to be successful in whatever area these young people choose."

Photo – Pete Metzelaars working during the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp. Metzelaars will join former Wabash teammates Rich Blastic and Chris Carr at a sports clinic Saturday, May 30 at 4 p.m. to benefit the Calvary Christian School in Highland, Indiana. Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Star.

A Whale of a Good Time

I can always tell when the semester is coming to a close — the call for volunteers for the Midnight Munch emanates †from the Dean of Students Office at Wabash. Faculty and staff from all over campus gather in the Great Hall of the Sparks Center to feed up the students pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and that Hoosier staple of biscuits and gravy. The meal provides a nice late night study break, but it has always been more than that.

My first experience with the Midnight Munch came about 3-1/2 years ago when Edie Simms, Associate Dean of Students at the time, was putting the event together. I learned from her†that while the food brought the students out for the evening, the chance to talk and take a short break from studying†was even more important. The young men would smile as you handed them a plate of food, enjoying the event, the atmosphere, and the fellowship with everyone involved.

Mike Raters ’85 heads up the Munch now in his role as the Associate Dean. When that email asking for help comes, I jump at the chance to spend another night behind the serving line.

Wonder if it really is fun to work the Munch? You can start by checking out some of the photos Chip Timmons posted in the Admissions blog, The Scarlet Banter. Or you need look no further than last night at the griddle where President Pat and Chris White prepared the first batch†of pancakes. Chris kept the proud tradition of "practically perfect pancakes" alive as silver dollar-sized flapjacks stacked up in the serving trays, awaiting the arrival of the students. As the evening progressed, the challenges began. Raters and Pat White started making various designs with the batter, including one pizza-sized pancake.

Near the end of the evening the two temporary fry cooks began molding the batter into a new shape — a whale. Raters carefully sculpted the mouth and and eye while President White formed the rest of the body and tail. A few minutes into the project came the big test. Would it stay together when it was flipped over on the grill?

Not a problem for these two Iron Chefs! Moments later one giant whale pancake was ready to be devoured. Matvey Toropov ’09 won the honors, eventually finding a plate big enough to hold the giant creation. Twenty minutes later Toropov left to head back to the books after enjoying his special meal.

It always seem like such a simple thing, just standing in line and tossing some eggs onto a plate. But every year I’m reminded it’s not about the food. As the spring 2007 Munch came near an end, one student came back to the head of the line. Chemistry professor Lon Porter asked him if he was back for a second round.

"No," the student replied. "I wanted to thank each of you for coming out to do this. I’ve had so much fun tonight, now I feel like I can go back to my room and finish my review work for my final exams."

Photos – (top left) Another "practically perfect pancake" comes off the griddle, courtesy of Chris White.

(Middle right) President Pat White and whale-cake.

(Bottom right) Toropov chats with Athletic Trainer Mark Colston after finishing his pancake.

Summer Fun!

Brent Harris, June 28 — Ah summer! A time to relax, spend short days in the office and longer days on the golf course. That’s what many people think the summer is like around the Wabash athletics offices during the months of May, June, and July before things get hectic once again in August for the fall sports.

But there has been a flurry of activity the past few weeks, and it will continue into the early weeks of July. Summer sports camps have kept the Allen Athletics and Recreation center packed with high school students and their parents since early June.

If you walked into the Bowerman Lobby two weeks ago you would have worked your way through a group of swimming campers getting their dorm keys and saying goodbye to their parents. Just past the swimmers, participants in the sold-out Bishop-Dullaghan Football Skills Camp were picking up their camp equipment before heading off to their rooms. Earlier in the week I had a chance to catch up with former Little Giant football player Vaino Grayam ’55 while his grandson registered for the Wabash wrestling camp.

The summer camp season will conclude with a wrestling team camp that begins Monday July 10. In addition to a staff consisting of Wabash head coach Brian Anderson, Fresno State assistant Kevin Lake, Dakota Wesleyan head coach Josh Hardman, 2004 Olympic silver medalist and three-time NCAA national champion Stephen Abas will work with high school teams on their wrestling skills. Teams can still sign up for the camp by contacting Coach Anderson.

As the final seven weeks of summer come to a close, it won’t be long before football, soccer, and cross country athletes begin their return to campus to get ready for the 2006-07 season. That still leaves some time to find that fairway on the golf course.

Know The Mountain

By Brent Harris

"Know where the mountain is at all times."

That’s a phrase the Wabash golf team may never forget after playing a round at the exclusive and historic Desert Forest Golf Course in Carefree, Arizona. You see, the course is located near the base of the Black Mountain. Every grain of grass on the greens goes toward the mountain. So even if the putt looks uphill, find the mountain. That’s the way the ball will break.

It was a tough lesson to learn. After spending nine holes with senior Elliot Vice and junior JP Manalo and their course member host Bill McRea, I raced ahead to join seniors Aaron Selby and Jonathan McDowell and freshman Jordan Vice. Every time they reached the green, they would remind each other, "where’s the mountain. Know the mountain."

Another thing to know is the weather. The Phoenix area was in the midst of a 140-day drought, one of the longest in the region’s history. That’s come to an end.The team played in 50-degree weather, but was surprised when the light rain that started late in the round turned to hail, then light snow. Twenty minutes later the sun came out and no remnants of the snow could be found. Welcome to the great Southwest.

After the round the group gathered with Wabash alum Dick Hurckes ’56, who hosted the team at the course for day. They talked about the course, playing the ball off the desert surrounding the course, overseeding the golf course (Wabash players say yes with the other popular phrase of the day being, "overseed." I think love of the course and the history of its development may win out in the end), and, of course, Wabash College.

They even took a moment to pose for a picture taken by a DePauw alumnus who is also a member of the club who took a moment to joke with the team and talk about his memories of the rivalry between the two schools.

Photos – (top) Freshman Jordan Vice tees off with the Black Mountain clearly in view.

(middle) Hail gathers on the practice green near the club house.

(bottom) The golf team with alum Dick Hurckes in the clubhouse after the round.

Alums, Athletes Enjoy Arizona Atmosphere

By Brent Harris

The Wabash baseball team would have been a little happier Sunday night had it picked up a second victory against RIT to go 2-0 to start the season. But many of the thoughts of the day’s events faded into the distance with a get-together for the Wabash athletes, coaches, and their families at the home of Mike Rapier ’87 and his wife, Cindy.

Joined by the Little Giant golf team, the athletes and coaches shared food, stories, and laughter while enjoying the start of a week of activities in Arizona. Both teams will practice and play in the sun-drenched Southwest before returning to campus at the end of spring break. Sunday night was less about athletic endeavors and everything about the special connection between Wabash men. Golfers and baseball players enjoyed great food and conversation, along with the incredible hospitality of the Rapiers. Talk of birdies, putts, base hits, and RBIs turned to midterms and summer plans amid the cool Arizona breeze.

Both teams return to their various arenas Monday. The golf team will head to We-Ko-Pah Golf Course, then travel to Eagle Mountain Tuesday thanks to the efforts of alumnus John Gallios ’52. Wednesday Dick Hurckes ’56 will host the team for a practice at the Desert Forest Golf Course before a Thursday match against Mesa Community College at Dobson Ranch Golf Course. The linksters close the week at Wigwam Golf Course and an afternoon with Roger Colehower ’65.

The Wabash baseball team will play Monmouth College Monday, followed by a Tuesday doubleheader against Wartburg. After a day off Wednesday, the Little Giants play Coe College, then take on Wisconsin Lutheran Friday. The final two games of the Arizona trip come Saturday morning against William Paterson of New Jersey before heading back to the airport and trip to Crawfordsville.

On behalf of the baseball and golf teams, thanks to the alums and the families who have supported the two teams during their Arizona trip. And a special thank you to the Rapiers for the wonderful event at their home Sunday night!

Photos – (Top left) Freshman Matt Dodaro and Mike Rapier ’87 chat before dinner.

(Bottom left) Head baseball coach Tom Flynn and senior golfer Elliot Vice share a laugh at dinner.

Colakovic Recital Brings Down The House

Brent Harris – Sunday afternoon in Salter Hall senior George Colakovic†presented his senior piano recital, complete with four friends from his hometown of Munster, Indiana to complete a jazz quintet. The five-piece band had the Hall swinging with Take Five, Moment’s Notice, and Well You Needn’t. George softened the mood with the sad and seductive I Remember Clifford.

One of the top moments of the recital came when Colakovic sang and performed an original tune, The Way I Feel. While he described it as more of a pop tune than jazz, the blues and jazz influence that permeated the rest of the selections could certainly be found in this song, as well.

What completed the event were some of people in the audience. You see, George played basketball for the Little Giants for one season before heading to New York as a junior for a semester. When he returned, he decided to concentrate on music and give up varsity hoops. But you could find him three rows behind the Wabash bench at nearly every home game, cheering on his former teammates. Sunday, those teammates were in the audience returning the favor, cheering every song the same way George applauded every time they scored a basket.

Now if George remembers the noon basketball games against me when he becomes a top-selling jazz pianist in a few years, maybe I can find a way to the front row of his first sold-out concert!

Photos – Colakovic at the piano.

(bottom right) Colakovic with jazz piano master Phil DeGreg.

Senior quarterback Russ Harbaugh has certainly represented Wabash well in Mexico as a member of the US team at the 2005 Aztec Bowl.

Harbaugh finished two-a-day practices Wednesday and was interviewed on the Aztec Bowl Preview Show last night. He took some time out Friday afternoon to share some of his experiences in Mexico with his teammates:

"The week here has been fantastic. We visited some Aztec ruins yesterday and had our final walk through this morning in the stadium we’ll be playing in on saturday. It’s sick. It’s a 30,000 seat stadium and painted in all these crazy colors and stuck right in between some mountains. They don’t think it will sell out but they expect 12 or 15,000. Should be a lot of fun. Wabash is getting a lot of love. I’ve played really well and today was named captain. It was pretty cool. The guys here are great and awesome athletes (some of our guys could totally hold their own though…). It’s been awesome representing Wabash. I hope you guys get a chance to listen on saturday. I’m getting the start…"

Russ told the media in attendance at Friday’s final practice, "This is a great group of guys and it’s been a great week. To know that they picked us to be captains is pretty flattering. When we were in the stadium today and you saw everybody with their USA jerseys on, you realize what a big deal this is. It’s neat to represent our country and Division III football. Being selected to a leadership role on this team is an honor."

You can listen to the game by going to Coverage starts at 1 p.m. (EST).

Remembering “Operation Frijoles”

Brent Harris – Every year around mid-October the phone calls begin. "I need tickets  to the game." "Can we schedule an interview with (insert name of  coach, player, or fan here)."

But the phone call I always enjoy is the inevitable call asking about "Operation Frijoles."

The latest came this summer from Sports Illustrated requesting interesting stories about rivalries, mascots, school names, or other unique and quirky events around small college athletics programs. As soon as I saw the request, up popped Jim Shanks ’67 and the legendary story of the Bell heist to end all Bell heists.

If you don’t know the story, click here for a review. And if you don’t know the story, you haven’t been paying attention. Sometimes I think it’s as much a part of Wabash tradition as learning the school song. I love re-telling the story to freshmen football players who are about to take the field for the first time with no true understanding of what they’re about to become a part of as the annual Bell Game.

There have been other Bell "requisitions"  throughout the many years of the rivalry. The Bell made a special guest appearance at the 1999 Monon Bell chapel despite the fact DePauw had won the previous season’s meeting between the two schools. And, as it almost always does, it found its way back to the DePauw campus in time for the game.

I love this rivalry. Yes, it’s a lot of work when you’re the SID for a game that thrusts your school into the national spotlight every year, regardless of whether you’re undefeated or looking to stay above .500. But it’s a labor of love. In part because every year I get to retell the story of Shanks and his trip to Greencastle in 1965 and the awarding of the "No-Bell" prize. Jim passed away a few years ago, but his legend lives on every fall when thoughts turn to that 350-pound prize currently sitting atop the Allen Center entryway thanks to a 17-14 win in this year’s game.