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Principia features a wide variety of clubs for students with all sorts of different interests. The majority of these clubs are completely organized and facilitated by students. The semester is off to an exciting start for each of these clubs with upcoming shows, tournaments, and trips. So here’s an exclusive look on some of the all-inclusive clubs on campus.
“I started climbing when I lived Colorado, so when I decided to come to Principia, it was just a natural step to form a community around this passion I love so much,” junior Ryan Richardson said. Like most activities at Principia, the inspiration for starting a student-led club began with an innate desire to share an passion with the community. Richardson, a longtime member of The Climbers of Principia, thought it would be cool to bring something new and exciting to students willing to take on adventure.
Richardson is a professional rock climbing guide certified by the American Mountain Guides Association. Don’t be intimidated by his credentials, however. Richardson is open to helping anyone learn to climb. “We get people of all types, and that’s one thing I really like about this community,” he said. “We are willing to teach anyone to climb a rock. We just love seeing people fall in love with it. The opportunities are pretty incredible for students in the club, and I think anyone who spends a bit of time with us will be enriched.”
This semester, Richardson and the rest of the climbing crew have been working on developing new climbing areas around Illinois, along with organizing a climbing competition series for other colleges and universities in the St. Louis area. The club also plans fun and exciting trips to climbing hotspots. This fall break, they took a trip to Seneca Rocks in West Virginia, home of the tallest free-standing rock formation east of the Mississippi River. Richardson and his team of 13 courageous climbers climbed multi-pitch routes up to 300 feet.
The Waterski Club started up last year with six members who were eager to use their skills and love for water sports to create their very own waterski team at Principia. They practice locally and compete in college tournaments around the country in slalom, trick and jump events. Last fall, the two club presidents – senior Karina Olsen and junior Jake Roometua – registered the team for the Great Plains Conference, a waterskiing conference that covers more of the southern Midwest states, as opposed to the Great Lakes Conference.
“The ski culture is very friendly,” Olsen said when describing the competition scene. “Most collegiate teams just do it for fun.” But just like any other sport, there is an element of pressure and competitiveness. “It can be nerve-racking,” Olsen added. “You only get one shot.”
This year, there are four new members of the club who are ready to take on the challenge: senior Devon Baggs, junior Kathryn Croney, and sophomores Juliette Roy and Michael Rohrer. Roometua and junior Conrad Bollinger help coach alongside faculty adviser Geoff Hinchman, the Rackham resident counselor. Their season is short but sweet, however, and it has already wrapped up this year. There are only three tournaments offered in September, so for now, they will keep practicing and wait until the spring.
The Principia Music Production Association was founded by three friends who each love writing and composing songs. Juniors Nick Boyd, Charlie Petch and Dani McKenzie decided as freshmen to create a club that would involve hands-on experience in the recording studio and collaboration with writers, musicians and producers of music.
“The club membership is growing, and people are producing a lot of creative songs,” McKenzie said. “Hopefully members will increase their knowledge of music production, and we’ll be able to turn things out quickly in the future.” McKenzie, a mass communication and global perspectives double-major, has been composing music since she was in middle school, and loves to combine her talents and love for music with creative media. Starting the club involved several weeks of planning, meaning not many outsiders initially knew about everything going on.
Now, the club continues to grow with a variety of unique talents. Students are able to work with state-of-the-art recording equipment in the recently-renovated recording studio, and get real-life recording experience at the same time.
Dance on campus is in full swing this semester. Seniors Jason Wissman and Katy McAloney co-teach swing dance classes every Sunday afternoon for anyone who wants to learn the basics of this classic partner dance set to 1940s big band music. Over the past few weeks, swing has grown immensely in popularity.
“It’s humbling to see so many people come out, and it’s exciting,” Wissman said. “But it’s not really surprising that they keep coming back. I love dance so much. How could everyone else not love dance so much? It’s just really fun for everybody.”
And he’s right. Every Sunday afternoon, Holt Gallery transforms into a downtown jazz bar, with students Charleston-ing their way across the floor. Everyone appears to be having a blast. Wissman joined the Swing Dance Club his freshman year and took on a teaching role shortly after. This November, he plans to take the group to the Nevermore Jazz Ball, a national swing dance competition in St. Louis where dancers come from all over the world to strut their stuff. The club will be able to watch the couples compete and get a better sense of what swing is all about.
“Swing dance isn’t really part of pop culture anymore, so it’ll be really cool to expose everyone to what’s out there,” Wissman said. He encouraged anyone who’s not already in the club to come out and try swing if they’re interested. “It’s open to people of all levels and there’s no judgment,” he said. “It’s just a good time for everybody.”