Jock Jams to celebrate 10th anniversary

By Tatiania Perry, Staff writer

On Monday, the varsity athletes around the Illinois campus will trade in the field and court for the big stage.

Each year, the Illini athletes gather together for Jock Jams, a popular event where hidden talents help raise money for various charities.

Over the past nine years of the event, Illini student-athletes have raised more than $111,000 for charities including Feeding Our Kids, Hilarity for Charity, Special Olympics of Illinois, Student-Athletes Leading Social Change and many more.

Last year’s event raised over $11,000 for charities Camp Kesem, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Uplifting Athletes.

Looking toward this year’s 10th anniversary performance, the event will be supporting Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression Foundation, Childhood Leukemia Foundation and Feeding Our Kids.

Well in advance, the Jock Jams event is organized by the Illinois Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

“At our monthly SAAC meeting we voice our opinions on what was close to our hearts,” said Taylor Edwards, SAAC secretary and Illini softball player. “I know mental health is something that SAAC has always been really for.”

Beth Prince, vice president of SAAC, said planning typically begins in August. The athletes organize everything from determining which charities to represent to contacting alums and local businesses to donate items for the raffle.

The 50/50 drawing is a raffle for coupons/gift certificates from local businesses and a separate silent auction will feature autographed items donated by Chicago Bears players, former Illini athletes and Illinois coaches. 

As for the athletes participating, they will be competing for the Jock Jams title.

New this year, there will be a People’s Choice Award, where those attending the event can vote for their favorite team act by making a donation to the charities. The team which raises the most money through these donations will walk away victorious. 

The co-hosts for the event will be men’s basketball’s Giorgi Bezhanishvili and soccer’s Jaelyn Cunningham.

“They are very entertaining people. They are well known throughout the student-athlete community,” Edwards said. “People can watch them for hours and not get bored.”

While hosts, winners and charities will change from year to year, the Illini mens gymnastics team has been at least one constant — being a fan favorite.

“Men’s gymnastics always tends to come in and steal the show,” Prince said.  “They wow the crowd, and they are really fun to watch.”

The overall feel of the night is angled to be a fun-filled time for both the audience and athletes. 

Prince, an outside hitter on the volleyball team, offered a small hint into the team’s performance.

“Ours is going to be singing, which is scary because none of us can sing,” Prince said. 

The saving grace for the volleyball team, according to Prince, is the song has never been heard before.

Edwards dropped some hints about the softball team’s routine, labeling it as a throwback dance with some possible baby costumes.

To truly find out, the athletes will take the stage Monday in Foellinger Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are sold at the door: $10 for adults, $5 for kids and $20 for VIP.

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