High fashion and devious fakery abound at Reed's March Madness (Photo from 2005). Photo by Orin Bassoff
Reedies packed the sports center on March 15 for an event they had been waiting for all spring. This wasn’t part of RAW, Reed’s annual arts week; it was a very different type of exhibition—March Madness.
Although March Madness at Reed may not feature as many teams—or as much advertising—as the NCAA version, its passion and intensity are unrivaled. This year marked the event’s 25th anniversary, and it showed in the approximately 200 spectators, participants, and supporters alike, who came out to watch the fun.
March Madness is a one-night, single-elimination tournament, featuring eight teams, compiled of Reed students, alumni, professors, and staff. The contest has its origins in 1989 when the Reed student team, which included Erik Brakstad ’89, was clobbered by a team made up of professors. “I thought to myself, where else would the student team lose to the faculty?” Erik said. He founded the tournament as a chance to get even for the loss, and the mania has only mounted since then.
It has long been an open secret that Reed's outdoor programs are among the best in the country. Despite our long and storied tradition of exploring the wilderness, however, backpacking trips and whitewater adventures often don't make it into the description of a college better known for pursuing the life of the mind.
Fortunately, Reed has been getting some well-deserved recognition recently with glowing coverage in Outside Magazine and the Wenger outdoor blog.
The Columbus Day Storm is generally reckoned to be the most powerful extratropical cyclone to hit the United States in the 20th century. Starting October 12, 1962, with peak gusts of 100 miles per hour, it rampaged through California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, killing 23 people, destroying 84 homes, severely damaging 5,000 more, and wreaking overall havoc estimated at $170 million.
What's this got to do with Reed? Nothing, except that the storm has sometimes been attributed to divine retribution after Reed defeated Columbia Christian College that day 19–7 on the football field.
Plutarch's On the Glory of Athens relates the story of Eucles, the Greek who ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens bearing the news that the Athenians had miraculously defeated Xerxes' army. After declaring, "We have won!" Eucles promptly died of exhaustion.
Last week bio major Ethan Linck '13 ran almost four times further, jogging 93 miles around Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland trail in just under 27 hours, the fastest unaided solo run ever recorded on that trail. Fortunately, he lived to tell the tale!
Ethan has been running cross country and track since high school, but got interested in 'ultra-running'—punishing long distance runs—at Reed, inspired by the heterogenous terrain and the strong ultra-running community in the Pacific Northwest. On his running blog he describes building up to the Wonderland trail: summer frustrations with similar runs, growing confidence in his own fitness, unexpectedly beautiful weather, and senior anxiety about leaving Oregon with so many adventures unexplored. All this led to the question that has pushed so many Reedies to do something outrageous: "Why not?"
Metaphysical education. Lifeguard Eliya Cohen '15 presents philosophical whiteboard to inquisitive Reed swimmers. Photos by Jenn McNeal '14.
The German philosopher Martin Heidegger said the best place to think philosophy was in a hut deep in the Black Forest while a storm raged outside. That may have been true for Heidegger, but it is not necessarily true at Reed, where a robust metaphysical debate has broken out in an unlikely location--the swimming pool.
Visitors to the sports center will notice that the poolside whiteboard no longer displays lap times and opening hours; over the last month it has sprouted a fascinating sequence of questions, claims, and rejoinders that have grown to fill every square inch. The debate began when philosophy major and lifeguard Eliya Cohen '15 asked fellow philosophy major Finn Terdal '12 to jot down some problems of metaphysics on the whiteboard to ponder during her shifts. The questions soon provoked students, alumni, professors, philosophers, physicists, and other sentient life forms who frequent the pool.
Photo from Cathy Stephens's blog bringiton23.com. Todd tells Cathy, "You are an Ironman."
Todd Hesse never thought it would be a big deal.
At midnight on June 24, Hesse stood at the finish line of the Ironman race in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He had completed the grueling triathlon, which comprises a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run earlier in the day. It hadn't been a particularly difficult race for Hesse, who works in alumni & parent relations at Reed and who ran an Ironman once before. He was doing it more because he wanted to spend time with his brother.
For five hours on Friday, April 13, Reed's strongest soccer players battled for the championship and its rewards: plastic medals bestowed by soccer coach and event organizer Larry Beutler.
The soccer tournament follows on the heels of the March Madness basketball tournament, and takes a similar form; eight teams of six players each square off with round-robin-style elimination.
Spring is sprung, the cherry trees in Eliot Circle are blooming, and Reed is gripped—gripped, we say—by March Madness. We refer not, of course, to the obscure proceedings of the NCAA but rather to the world-famous 24th annual Reed Basketball Tournament, held Friday, March 23, at the Watzek Sports Center.
No fewer than eight teams have registered for the prestigious tournament this year. Here's the bracket:
Title IXers vs Leftovers
Amateurs vs Lil Grifs
Right Bank vs Ya B-Ballers
Beserk vs OGs
Chem major Paul Whittredge '12 (right, black vest) shattered a longstanding Reed track record on Saturday, running two miles in 10:21.7 seconds, and demolishing the previous time, which had stood since 1956, by almost 17 seconds. His training partner, Jack Flowers '15, also beat the old record, finishing just four seconds behind Paul.
With the mercury reading a brisk 45 F, and the sky the texture of a wet towel, the two runners set off at noon on the track at Cleveland High School. (Unfortunately, the old Reed track that used to encircle the tennis courts is no more.) The official timekeeper was professor David Latimer [physics 2010-]; the cheering section included running enthusiast Johnny Powell [physics 1987-] and a representative of the fourth estate. The small turnout was no accident-- Paul did not want a lot of pomp and ceremony for the occasion. "I was feeling really anxious about it over the last several days," he admitted. "But when I woke up this morning I felt awesome."
The internet has been abuzz over the last few days with breathless rumors that Reed is getting rid of women's rugby. The reports sparked a veritable inferno of outrage from alumni who played the game at Reed, many of whom instantly leaped to the conclusion that dark forces in the administration were bent on Evil And Nefarious Deeds (and presumably fulfilling a lifelong quest to rid the world of oblate spheroids).
But as Mark Twain once said, "the reports of my death have been much exaggerated." Reed is not, I repeat, not terminating women's rugby. However, Dean Mike Brody has decided to withdraw the team from league play after a conversation with its coach.
Brandon Hamilton '11
It's an ancient debate--are youth and speed a match for age and guile? At Centennial Reunions, Reedies traded eye goggles for mouth guards and lab coats for cleats to settle the question on the pitch as alumni from the eighties (the "First Fifteen") faced off against younger grads for a little post-thesis physics experiment.
The senior Griffins clinched the 2011 March Madness championship with a decisive victory over Right Bank in the final round of Reed's madcap elimination basketball tournament.
The tournament, now in its 23rd year, features teams composed of students, alumni, staff, faculty, and other life forms in various combinations. In past years, departments, dorms, and even teams from other sports have competed for the title.
This year, the alumni were represented by two teams: the House Husbands, captained by Erik Brakstad '89, mainly composed of alumni of--shall we say--antique vintage, and Right Bank, most of whom graduated in the last decade or so. In their first-round match-up, Right Bank notched a 27-17 victory over HH thanks to skillful play by Imran Ahmad '04 and generally superior conditioning...
Reed's annual one-of-a-kind basketball tournament is happening tonight. Started over 20 years ago by Erik Brakstad '89, the event features students, alumni, staff, and various other life forms in a bouncy, spherical celebration of America's tallest sport.
Here is the bracket as of press time: