Freshmen celebrate first days on campus

By Amber Greviskes

John Seiler graduated from the University in 1954. Still, he and his wife Jane were among the last to leave the First Nite at Memorial Stadium Monday night.

The couple have returned to the University for approximately five years to help freshmen celebrate their first few days there. Both are members of the Alumni Association and their three children attended the University, too.

“It’s an invigorating thing to see all of these young people,” said Jane Seiler, who noted that students were extremely responsive and polite this year.

“We’ve been coming to football and basketball games, and we just enjoy it,” John Seiler said.

This year, the couple was in charge of roughly 30 senior volunteers who helped at the event.

Many organizations and people were responsible for coordinating the event for the largest freshman class ever admitted to the University.

Music from the Marching Illini greeted the freshmen as they cascaded into Memorial Stadium following convocation, the only time the freshman class will assemble together before graduation.

“It’s awesome that everyone came early to prepare this for us,” said Karley Klopping, freshman in FAA. “Each person in the freshman class comes from different backgrounds and this was a good chance for us to come to together. It’s a bonding experience.”

Even the freshmen members of the Illinois football team, who have spent the week at training camp in Rantoul, Ill., were grateful for the chance to celebrate the evening with their classmates.

“It’s really nerve wracking because they’re expecting so much from us already,” said defensive linebacker Xavier Fulton, of having to appear on the field in front of all of his classmates.

Offensive lineman Ryan McDonald might have been slightly more nervous. On the bus ride to Memorial Stadium from Rantoul, Illinois head coach Ron Turner gave McDonald the responsibility of leading the freshmen football players in the Illinois fight song, which the team sings in the locker room after each victory. McDonald, whose parents both attended the University and whose father also played football, describes coming to and competing for the University as “a dream come true” and “a miracle.”

“This seems like a great group with a lot of enthusiasm,” McDonald said, of the freshman class, “I’m excited for what they are going to do for this place.”

Fulton promised the team would not disappoint Illini fans gathered at the stadium.

“We’re ready to produce,” he said.

The Illinois soccer, volleyball and cross country teams also attended First Nite.

Head women’s soccer coach Janet Rayfield encouraged the students to attend the Illini’s first game on Aug. 29 and explained the “Go for a Grand” program the team started. If an Illinois athlete scores a goal during the first minute of the second half of a home game, one member of the crowd will win a thousand dollars. If a goal is not scored, the money rolls over to the next game. With eight home games this season, there will be eight thousand good reasons to attend the game, Rayfield said, adding that the 25 women on the team “are 25 other great reasons.”

The appearance of the fall athletic teams was followed by performances by the University cheerleaders and dance team.

Various student organizations also informed students of opportunities to volunteer, join student government and show their school spirit.

As the rain clouds rolled in, fireworks lit up the sky and a capella singing group The Other Guys performed as students filed out of the Stadium.

Although the Seilers, who greeted students and handed out key chains at First Nite, were done with their involvement in the evening’s freshmen activities, they said they plan to return “as long as (they’re) able.