Kegs of Jackalope craft beer were found in McClurg dining hall on Saturday, April 5, sold to of-age students and community members to enjoy as the two Final Four games played on the big screen. More remarkable than the kegs, however, was that all the food served in McClurg Saturday evening was made from student recipes as a part of the University’s Cornerstone Committee’s Slam Dunk Final Four BBQ contest. This year, faculty members each chose six students to form the seven teams that competed in the contest. The teams also joined with local restaurants Blue Chair, Modern Dave’s, The Tavern, Ivy Wild, Julia’s, Crossroad’s, and McClurg Dining Hall. John Shackelford, tennis coach and member of the Cornerstone Committee, helped organize the barbecue contest. “The Slam Dunk Final Four BBQ began last spring as an idea designed to help build community through events that bring our campus together,” Shackelford said. “Our in outside-of-the-classroom experiences.”
By working together to create recipes for pulled pork and slow roast ribs, a team would have the chance to talk and get to know one another much better. Often times on our campus many of our interactions are gender-segregated or are not designed to intentionally bring people together who are not already close friends. This event seemed to be an ideal opportunity to mix people as well as ingredients.”
In its second year, the Slam Dunk contest saw several changes to its structure, including the addition of local restaurants as team partners. Last year’s contest had four teams which were each assigned two barbecue meats to cook, with the final contest and awards presentation on the day of the Final Four. This year’s competition had two separate semi-final events prior to the Final Four game day, which divided the seven teams into two separate brackets to compete in. “We learned a lot last year, and as with any new tradition we hope to make it better this year and continue to improve the process over time. The decision to sponsor two semifinal nights was simply an effort to include more teams, more students, and more faculty members in the process,” Shackelford said.
Before the first game between Florida and Connecticut began, Parker Oliver (C’89), executive director of Marketing & Communications, announced the winners of each barbecue category and presented the winning teams with their medals. Teams placed either in 1st, 2nd, or the People’s Choice For the chicken wings category, team Latin Sensation (Bachman) came in first, pulled pork saw team Manifeast Destiny (Register/Berebitsky) as the winner, and team Smokin’ Hot (Wilson won best beef brisket). Will Yum’s Monopolizing BBQ (Williams) won for pork ribs. Teams were also given awards for best McClurg station decorations.
Most importantly, however, was the transformation of McClurg into an area where all could eat, drink, and enjoy themselves as both Final Four games played on a large screen projector at the back of McClurg’s “fratside.” “There was a great atmosphere, especially since it wasn’t just students; there were a lot of faculty members and families. “It was great everyone could come together to enjoy the game,” Bri Ehret (C’16) said. The teamwork and commitment required of planning and preparing 200 lbs of meat also served to form connections between the students, faculty, and community members. “Being able to interact with professors and the chefs was my favorite part. Especially outside of normal circumstances like the classroom,” Tanner Potts (C’15), a member of team Manifeast Destiny, said.
“The real work was done by Dining Manager Wyatte Stuard, Chef Rick, owners of the local restaurants, and the faculty members who volunteered to coach a team. Nancy Berner, Doug Williams, Deb McGrath, Rob Bachman, John Grammer, Woody Register, Julie Berebitsky, Scott Wilson, and Virginia Craighill deserve all the credit for a successful event,” Shackelford said. The fruits of their labor provided an excellent atmosphere for the community at large to enjoy, as well as excellent food in an event that is hopefully on its way to becoming a strong Sewanee tradition.