Saluki athletes showcase personal talents

Saluki athletes showcase personal talents

By Matt Wells, @mattwells_DE

Saluki athletes teamed up for a talent show Monday night and raised nearly $1,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale.

Sophomore swimmer Kristina Ksarjian, who rapped in the talent show, said the teams’ ability to help fundraise for the club is a blessing.

“We get to do something that’s super fun, but we’re doing something great for the community as well,” she said.


Ksarjian, her teammates and the men’s swimming and diving team combined to re-write and sing popular songs to fit the sport.

The swimmers and divers were tied with the volleyball team at the end, but the crowd made the final decision, cheering loudest for swimming and diving.

For its efforts, the team was awarded with a $250 gift certificate donated by 710 Bookstore, which sponsored the event. Other prizes were raffled off during the night from local businesses to raise more money.

But a prize is not what motivated the athletes. The ability to compete against each other and help the community were the real rewards.

Freshman swimmer Liane Tatigian said the team rehearsed Thursday and some people did not know the lyrics for their song. They rehearsed again Sunday and by then everyone knew what to do.

Swimming coach Rick Walker, the only non-student athlete in the talent show, rapped while wearing sunglasses and a sideways hat. He also walked with gangster swagger.

Walker said Kristina Stepps, an associate athletic director, persuaded him to be part of the routine.


Women’s volleyball players danced to various songs with the minimal light provided by multi-colored glow sticks taped to the dark-colored clothing they wore. 

Senior volleyball middle hitter Taylor Pippen said the team’s freshmen organized everything, from the glow sticks to the songs and choreography.

She said even with school and volleyball practice, it did not take long to get the routine down.

“We’ve been practicing for about a week and [we] pretty much perfected it,” Pippen said.

Other participants did not have their entire team involved.

Junior men’s golfers Drew Novara and Ben Patton took a comedic approach by performing “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing,” originally seen on, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

“We came up with something fun we could pull off, with us being white guys with minimal rhythm, something we could actually do,” Patton said.

Novara said being in the heart of golf season and between tests, they first started rehearsing around midnight on Sunday.

Junior long distance runner Oscar Medina was the only men’s cross-country participant. He chose to dance with his hometown friend Carolina Villanueva, of Chicago.

He said perfecting the dance took about two weeks, and then to perform it in the arena was nerve wrecking.

Medina carried a rose for the duration of the routine. He dipped Villanueva at the end,  throwing the rose into the crowd for dramatic effect.

Senior offensive tackle Ethan Wirth, a member of SIU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, said helping the Boys & Girls Club was something the committee agreed on.

“You can really learn a lot from going out and helping the community,” Wirth said. “You realize how much people do care.”

Tina Carpenter, program director, said the club keeps kids occupied and ties into their education. It shows them what they learn in school also applies to the real world.

She said the club keeps kids busy after school—the time when kids tend to get in more trouble, because parents are working or busy with other obligations.

“Being a part of the Boys & Girls Club, I feel I can have an impact on the lives of these young people,” Carpenter said.

The proceeds from the show provided scholarships for the club’s summer academic enrichment programs, which Carpenter said are important.

The club has eight weeks of summer programming with a weekly cost of $35 per member.

Matt Wells can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-6311 ext. 269.