Music filled the air as students and Norton locals walked around Haas Athletic Center Saturday evening, enjoying snacks and taking part in the carnival attractions.
Every February, the WAMs (Wheaton Athletic Mentors) sponsor a weekend of sobriety known as the Big Event. The WAMs are a leadership group of student athletes who provide a liaison between student athletes and administration at the academic level. Each of the 21 varsity athletic teams on campus has a corresponding WAM or multiple WAMs. These students provide encouragement for academic achievement, social responsibility and healthy lifestyles to improve the student athlete experience.
As swimming and diving WAM Emerson Jenkins ’14 said, “It’s really cool to be the person that people come to with their issues.”
The Big Event was created to establish one dry weekend on campus, with this year being the ninth annual sober weekend. Over the course of the two days, the alcohol policy is heavily enforced; any alcohol related activities are not tolerated. This program was designed to raise awareness regarding the abuse and misuse of alcohol on college campuses.
WAM co-President Mike Hall ’13 explained, “It’s a great idea to help raise awareness and really gets students to step back and think about how and why they intake alcohol.”
To set up fun substance-free activities, the WAMs collaborated with various departments around campus, including SAIL, the Department of Athletics, Programming Council, Senate Fund and The Chateau.
The weekend began on Friday with a dodgeball tournament, which was followed by a carnival in Haas on Saturday evening from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Carnival activities included a mechanical bull, defender zone, a “Boot Camp Challenge” obstacle course and sumo suit wrestling.
Students as well as Norton families were invited to attend this carnival. “I love seeing the young kids from town run around and have fun,” said Jenkins.
“My favorite part of the event was watching my friend attempt the mechanical bull and getting tossed off within four seconds” added Suleiman Amin ’15.
New this year was a performance by the a cappella group the Wheatones, whose repertoire included a notable rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Those present enjoyed the typical grill fare; the cotton candy machine was, as it has been in the past, a favorite amongst students.
All proceeds from the sale of Big Event “Proud to be Sober” t-shirts were donated to Heller’s Angels, a Special Olympics team based in Attleboro, Mass.
Chad Wrisley ’13, a WAM of three years, ran the defender zone. “I really enjoy being a leader and role model on campus; it is a good idea to show students that there are other things that they can do besides drink and party,” said Wrisley.
The tradition of the Big Event will continue annually and grow to include more activities while promoting safe and substance-free activities for students on campus.