Athletes at the University of Idaho needed a fundraising event at the end of the semester, so they utilized an old college stereotype to their advantage — pong.
The Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) will host the first ever Powerade Pong Tournament from 2-4 p.m. Friday in the lower Physical Education Building gymnasium. It will be SAAC’s fundraising event for the local nonprofit organization Christmas for Kids.
Claire Johnson is a volunteer and service coordinator for SAAC, and she said people have already signed up.
“I hope more people sign up,” Johnson said. “I hope it gets out to Greek kids, and not even that, but normal students, because it’s a fun way for all of us to do things together.”
Teams of two may participate for a $5 entry fee, or for $4 with a toothbrush, toothpaste or another oral hygiene donation. Kelly Dopke is also a volunteer and service coordinator for SAAC and said the organization across the Big Sky Conference is taking part in an oral hygiene donation competition.
Johnson said the SAAC looked for a fundraising event to support Christmas for Kids and a few ideas were tossed around, but Powerade Pong received the best reactions.
One of the largest challenges the council is looking to overcome is reaching out to involve non-athletes. Johnson said they’ve made a big push to get flyers into the Idaho Commons and to promote the event on Twitter and Facebook. She said it’s a great opportunity for different groups to do something together.
“I feel like there is kind of that gap between athletes and everyone else just because we’re so busy, or Greek systems are doing their own thing and marching band has their own stuff, you know,” Johnson said.
Winners will receive a prize of gift cards from businesses around Moscow, and Dopke said they’re trying to find old unused jerseys and T-shirts with numbers on them to give away as well.
Christmas for Kids gave SAAC Christmas lists from four local children and Dopke said the athletes will purchase the gifts and wrap them once they’ve collected all donations.
“We’re going to collect as much as we can because we wanna give back,” Dopke said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, is just trying to help the community out.”
There are many ways to play pong, and Johnson said they still have to work on putting a consistent rule sheet together. As this is the first time the event has happened, Dopke said they’re hoping for the best and will look to iron out any kinks they run into.
It’s a good time to hold it, Dopke said, because it’s Dads’ Weekend and it’s before dead week and finals. The football team plays the next day, and many other UI teams also play at home for the weekend.
“If people want to meet more athletes, that’s a good way, because a lot of athletes are doing it and then get to know some Greek people, other students, hopefully some ASUI and band people sign up as well,” Dopke said.
Jack Olson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org