Monday, March 22, 2010

Tooting the pep band's horn

The following letter was received by RMU band director Betsy Charles. It is reprinted here with the author's permission:

Dear Robert Morris Pep Band,
I am the Public Relations Chair in the Creighton University Pep Band, and I wanted to congratulate you, on behalf of our Pep Band, on your performance today in the NCAA Tournament.

First of all, you sounded and looked great on TV. You are one of the few bands we’ve seen that totally pull off the hockey-sweater look.

More importantly though, congratulations on the Colonials’ gutsy performance in Providence today. It is certainly no consolation for the heartbreaking loss you endured today. Everything we’ve seen on Twitter says your band was completely into the game, and responsible for a lot of the noise from the RMU side of the arena. I assure you, the Creighton Pep Band can relate to the anguish you must feel after the emotional loss, and we applaud you for the spirit you showed today, in the face of adversity.

We appreciate pep bands who, like us, get involved in the game for reasons other than extended travel. We appreciate the mid-major pep bands who, like us, put in innumerable hours of work, and make do with limited resources. Thank you for showing the nation today what great pep bands do. Keep up the good work!

Go Bluejays, and go Colonials,

Patrick Murray
Public Relations Chair
Creighton University Pep Band
"Our Might to the Fight We Will Lend"

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Colonial Army invades Rhode Island

It was like we lived a movie. As the final shot fell to the floor, an audible gasp and sigh came from the entire crowd at The Dunkin' Donuts Center. This sigh was followed by a few seconds of silence, then a passionate ovation from every single person in attendance. This was more than polite applause; it was a reaction of respect and admiration. It was like the end or Rudy, or when the Soviets began to cheer for Rocky Balboa. It was the kind of powerful moment that will stay with me, for the rest of my life…

During the American Revolution, the Colonial Army protected Providence, and it was never occupied by the British.

On March 18, 2010… the Colonial Army invaded Providence.

When 155 RMU students boarded their buses 16 hours before tipoff, each of them knew what it meant to be a 15 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. There's no chance of winning. In the long history of March Madness, it has happened 4 times. There is more likely chance of embarrassment. It was highly probable that 24 total hours on a bus would result in a 40 point blowout… and we all knew it. But, The Colonial Army, from a small insignificant school stood up to the mighty Villanova Wildcats.

A Brief Vocabulary lesson:
A Wildcat is an undomesticated north American feline, such as a Lynx, Puma or Bobcat.
A Colonial is a revolutionary freedom fighter, who stood up against King George and his Mighty British Army, and pulled off the greatest "upset" in history… the American Revolution.

We were very much "Upset Minded." As the bus rolled out of campus, my bus chose to play the movie "The Karate Kid. We watched as Daniel-San learned the how courage, balance and preparation, can defy any odds. If all "Big Schools" are the Kobra Kai, then to us, Villanova was Johnny Lawrence. We believed that RMU was Daniel Larusso, ready to unleash the Crane Kick.
That is exactly what happened. (Except in the Karate Kid, the referees were competent, and made the correct call in the "Sweep the Leg" incident… but I digress.)

It’s a great feeling to think of the entire country, clutching their brackets with sweaty palms, tweeting, googleing, and chatting about "RMU." I like to think that President Obama (who picked Nova to be in his Final Four) was glued to the TV set, shouting "That was a Jump Ball! These Refs are horrible." I like to believe that the entire country was cheering along with the Colonial Army "Rob-ert Mor-ris Clap-Clap-ClapClapClap." For a few hours , we were the best around… and every RMU student felt that power.

In the end, this movie was more like Rocky 1. The insignificant underdog, who never had a chance, went the distance with Apollo Creed. In the end, there was no victory… just a passionate ovation and the respect of the entire country. Do you remember the end of Rocky 2? There will be a sequel, and we will win a game in the tournament.

I learned a lot about our student population on Thursday, from both the students in Rhode Island, and in Moon Township. We are a Wildly Passionate, Upset-Minded, Odds-Defying, Loud and Crazy bunch of original revolutionaries… who have faith in their team and their school… and faith will be rewarded.

I thank you Coach Rice, and all players and staff of the RMU Basketball Team. You delivered one of the greatest moments in the history of Robert Morris University, and have given the Colonial Army more reasons to believe.

--John Locke, assistant director of student life

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shoppin’ with Tom

Back in October, I met up with Tom Julian ’84 over at Nordstrom’s at Ross Park Mall where he was signing his new book, the Nordstrom Guide to Men's Style, a comprehensive fashion guide for men. I had written a cover feature about Tom for the spring 2008 issue of Foundations magazine, and I was happy to finally meet him face to face.

Being somewhat clueless when it comes to fashion, I was intimidated – to say the least – to meet such a legend of the fashion industry. But Tom was just as friendly and personable as can be, and if he had any critique on my choice of clothing, he very kindly kept it to himself.

When it comes to fashion, Tom’s your man. In addition to being the president and founder of Tom Julian Group, he has also chronicled red carpet trends for the Style Section of for, the official website of the Academy Awards.

Now Tom is back for more with his latest release, the Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Everyday Dressing. Stop by Nordstrom at Ross Park Mall on Thursday, March 18, between 6-8 p.m. to meet Tom, get a signed copy of his book, and get some great fashion tips for yourself or the man in your life.

To RSVP, or for special accommodations, call (412) 548-4300, ext. 1220.

Few people know the latest fashion trends better than Tom Julian. And now he’s got not one but two books to prove it.

RMU knows fashion. Who knew?

—Valentine J. Brkich

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lacrosse Anyone?

I was walking back from picking up a sandwich for lunch today, when I heard music coming from the direction of Joe Walton Stadium, so I decided to take a peek and see what was going on. Turns out it was a junior varsity lacrosse match between Robert Morris University and Mercyhurst North East. I’d never been to a live lacrosse match before, so I decided to sit down with my lunch and watch for a while—and I’m glad I did.

If you’ve never been to a lacrosse match before, it’s really something to see. It’s sort of a mixture of hockey, soccer, basketball, and that cool game you play on the beach with those plastic racquets and ball—only a lacrosse ball is made of hard rubber that can knock your lights out if you’re not paying attention.

I was amazed at the skill and grace the players displayed in tossing and catching the tiny rubber ball with just a stick with a small net at the end. (Actually, “tossing” may not be the appropriate word; “whipping” or “hurling” would be more accurate.) And if that seems difficult, if not impossible, to you, try doing it while being incessantly whacked at, hammered, and harassed by members of the opposing team. Lacrosse certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.

I did a little research on the game when I got back to my office. According to, the name “lacrosse” comes from the French term for “any game played with a curved stick” or “crosse.” The sport has its origins in ancient times and is derived from a variety of stickball-type games that were once played by native peoples throughout North America. George Beers detailed the playing techniques of the Mohawk peoples in his Lacrosse (1869). James Mooney, in the American Anthropologist (1890), provided a description of what he called “[Eastern] Cherokee Ball-Play,” including details about the game’s rules and elaborate rituals.

Today, lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with more than half a million players. And RMU’s team is steadily becoming a lacrosse powerhouse.

While I was there, RMU scored two goals and kept Mercyhurst from even attempting a single shot. When I got back to my office, I gave Head Coach Kenneth “Bear” Davis a call and found out that the team ended up winning with a score of 19-3. This is Davis’s sixth season with the team since being named the program's first head coach in 2004, and so far, the team remains perfect.

You really never know what you’ll see here when you’re walking around campus.

Lacrosse at RMU…who knew?

Valentine J. Brkich