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It’s Tradition: MSU students share their favorites

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It’s Tradition: MSU students share their favorites

Traditions at Michigan State University come in all shapes and sizes. The campus is decorated with statues of respected figures from the school’s history and monuments donated by alumni. But not all traditions can be seen with the eye. The invisible experiences, like the “Midnight Scream” and the “Go Green, Go White” chant can be just as important.

As the current academic year comes to a close, many students are reminded of the things that they’ve achieved, including memories made.

For freshman Madison O’Connor, the end of the year marks the completion of her first year at MSU. Meanwhile, we are brought even closer to the return of football season. As most Spartan football fans are well aware, these games are notorious for the chanting of one special song.

O’Connor said that the fight song, “Victory for MSU,” is the school tradition that she enjoys most.

“I like it because I feel like it brings all the students together … We’re all there cheering together for the same people,” O’Connor said.

In the fall of 2015, the changing of the well-known melody’s name was big news for the MSU community. To celebrate 100 years since it was written, the song was renamed “Victory for MSU.”

Still on O’Connor’s to-do list is a selfie with the school mascot “Sparty.”

“I feel like that’s something everyone should do at least once,” she said.

Freshman Fallon Reagan, who ranks her school spirit as a 9 or a 10 on a 10-point scale, said she, too, holds football season close to her heart. She said that she enjoys “the student section, the comradery and you feel like you’re a part of something bigger and just all the cheers. It makes you feel like, there’s 50,000 of us, but it makes you feel more like you’re a part of something.”

As a member of the French club and other student organizations, Reagan said she hopes to have the opportunity to paint The Rock during her time at MSU.

Sophomore Serenity Tyll would also like to test her artistic skill on the famous structure.

“All the time, I hear students come back from it and they stay out all night and make a huge deal about it,” Tyll said. “They come back and they’re like so closer just because of the weird things that happened with sleep-deprived college students at night.”

Tyll, like many others at MSU, realizes that The Rock is more than just a rock, “I think it symbolizes that (students are) a part of something because a lot of times they do it as a group or a club. It feels like that call-to-action that they’re doing something, like either spreading the word about their club or a significant cause that they’re passionate about.”

These are only a few of the things shared between Spartans at Michigan State University, but an evident theme amongst them is the idea of being included in something that means so much to so many people. There’s a sense of pride in saying, “Yeah, I did that,” or “I was there when that happened.”

Whether it’s something that has been around for years or a moment that is once in a lifetime, Spartan traditions are remembered by many.

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MSU Bucket List: 16 things to do before you graduate

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MSU Bucket List: 16 things to do before you graduate

Some people say high school is the best years of your life, others would argue that college takes the cake. Spartans, whether it takes you more or less than four years to complete college, make sure to complete this bucket list before leaving Michigan State University.

1. Join a club

Michigan State University has over 700 clubs. If there isn’t a club that suits you, start your own! Leave your legacy with a successful student organization

2. Attend at least one football or basketball game

Spartan Stadium at Michigan State University. Photo via Savannah Swix.

Spartan Stadium at Michigan State University. Photo via Savannah Swix.

MSU is a Big Ten school. It’s a tradition and an honor to attend at least one game. In addition, it’s great to witness our football team succeed on the field with your own eyes.

3. Sit by the Red Cedar River

Though it’s impossible to know what lies beneath the water, Spartans still appreciate the beauty of the Red Cedar River, especially in the springtime. The ducks are also very cute companions and fun to feed.

4. Visit the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum

The museum is beautiful, free and the building will appear in the next “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” movie. The art exhibits in the museum change a lot, so visiting more than once might be worth it as well.

5. Study abroad

MSU has over 275 study abroad programs. They are offered during most semesters, and the advising office is very helpful with fixing study abroad into your schedule.

6. Order food from Conrad’s Grill

Whether you are out late and waiting hours in a long line or ordering from your dorm room, you need to experience Conrad’s for yourself. Try the “Number One” wrap for your first time, it is number one.

7. Get a picture with Sparty

Everyone wants a picture with Sparty. It’s just something that you have to do.

8. Participate in the midnight scream

Let’s face it, finals are stressful. Participate in the scream to let some stress out.

9. Go to a movie at Wells Hall

Wells Hall offers free movies to students just by showing MSU ID to receive tickets. Take advantage of this free opportunity because it might not happen again!

10. Eat MSU Dairy Store ice cream

You will not regret this. The Dairy Store even makes its own ice cream sandwiches!

11. Take a picture with the Spartan statue

Whether this is taken during your orientation as a freshman, before a football game or after graduation, it is nice to have this to look back on.

12. Try out for an intramural sport

This is a good way to make friends and a healthy way to take a break from studying.

13. Be a part of “Sparty Watch”

After what recently happened to the Magic Johnson statue, everyone should be on board to protect the MSU monuments.

14. Go to an acapella concert

See some of the talent that student groups like Ladies First or State of Fifths work hard to perform.

15. See a show at the Wharton Center

“Dirty Dancing” and “The Nutcracker 2015” are both coming to the Wharton Center stage this year. Student discount rates are applied to some shows, check them out!

16. Appreciate campus during all seasons

MSU students are fortunate to have a beautiful campus that experiences all four seasons. Get out and enjoy each one!


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Professional Spartans: Le’Veon Bell

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Professional Spartans: Le’Veon Bell

bellThere are 20 former Spartans currently in the National Football League, 17 of them played under Mark Dantonio. Arguably the best NFL player to come out of the Spartans lead by Dantonio is Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell.

In his three years at Michigan State University, Bell amassed 3,346 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns, the majority of which came during his final year in 2012. Bell’s first two years at MSU were spent splitting time and carries with fellow running back Edwin Baker. In 2012, Bell rushed for 1,793 yards on 382 attempts as MSU’s primary running back, catching the attention of NFL scouts and teams.

According to NFL scouts, Bell’s clear strength was the power behind his runs. They described Bell as a “Big, bruising back with power in his lower body but lighter feet than you’d expect given his size … Strong cuts and a nice burst out of them makes him capable of breaking off big runs … ” The only weakness scouts saw in his game was his height, because it slowed him down slightly and made him a much larger tackling target.

In 2013, with the 48th pick in the second round, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Bell. Bell’s impact was felt immediately as he rushed for 860 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. During that season, Bell’s weekly rushing varied quite a bit, however, he managed a 100+ yard rushing game against the Green Bay Packers in week 16.

2014 saw Bell come into his own as an NFL running back. He ran for 1,361 yards and 8 touchdowns despite injuring his knee at the end of the year. Bell broke career high rushing games twice in 2014. Once in week 3 against the Carolina Panthers, where he ran for 147 yards, and again in week 11 against the Tennessee Titans, where he ran for 204 yards and a touchdown. Bell strongly contributed to the Steelers AFC North title and their playoff berth, but was unable to play in the postseason due to injury.

Bell missed the first two games of the 2015 season due to suspension for marijuana use, but when he returned to action he showed the NFL that he is still a top 10 running back and a key piece to the Steelers’ offense. In just four games, Bell has 390 yards and two touchdowns with two 100+ yard rushing games. Three of Bell’s four games have been played without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and in his absence Bell has proven that he can carry this offense by himself, if need be.

Bell’s career is definitely trending in the right direction. Earlier this year, former NFL great Tiki Barber was asked by Bleacher Report which current running back reminds him most of himself and Barber said Bell, “Le’Veon reminds me of myself … Although he got it much quicker than I did.”

If Bell continues to play like he is now, we could be talking about him and runners like Barber in the same conversation for years to come.   


College stats courtesy of sports-reference.com.

NFL stats courtesy of NFL.com.

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Professional Spartans: Kirk Cousins

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Professional Spartans: Kirk Cousins


Back in the spring of 2012, the Washington Redskins were desperate for a quarterback. Fresh off of a 5-11 season, the team was searching for the franchise quarterback that they had been missing since the ‘90s.

In the first round of the draft, according to Bleacher Report, they gave up a King’s Bounty of three first round picks and a second round pick to acquire Robert Griffin III out of Baylor. Many assumed that the Redskins had found their man. However, three rounds later with the seventh pick in the fourth round, they selected another quarterback – Kirk Cousins.

The reaction to the Redskins selection of Cousins in the fourth round was mixed. Many thought that he was picked strictly as a backup.

According to an NFL.com scouting report, many NFL scouts agreed with this noting that “while he was a QB drafted for his intangibles and experiences as a three-year starter and captain at Michigan State, he has deficiencies that will hurt him at the next level.”

During his first year in Washington, D.C., Cousins played three times, filling in for an injured Robert Griffin III. His first game was a loss against the Atlanta Falcons despite putting up decent numbers.

Eight weeks later, Griffin III exited early from a game against the Baltimore Ravens. Cousins successfully managed the late part of the game and helped the Redskins to an overtime victory. The next week, according to NFL.com, he started the first game of his career during which he had two touchdowns and threw for 329 yards on his way to a 104.4 passer rating and a victory.

After 2012, things began to go up and down in Cousins’ career. Expected franchise savior Griffin III suffered a severe injury in the 2012 postseason, which he would never fully recover from. In 2013, Cousins played in five games including the last three weeks of the season after then Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan declared Griffin III inactive. Once again, Cousins put up average numbers, but he began to show a problem with throwing interceptions and consistency.

In 2014, Cousins played in place of an injured Griffin III for five games where his performances ranged from great to inconsistent. His unreliable play lead to him being benched and replaced by third-string QB Colt McCoy and a flurry of trade rumors.

However, in 2015 Cousins has another shot. Following a concussion that Griffin III sustained during the preseason against the Lions, Cousins was named the starter quarterback for the season in a controversial move by head coach Jay Gruden.

Initially things didn’t look promising for Cousins this year. Reports swirled of an alleged rift between the players on whether to follow Cousins or to stay loyal to Griffin III. Now, four games into the 2015 season, Cousins has made strides to winning over both the locker room and fans.

So far this year, Cousins has thrown for 1,005 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, as stated on NFL.com. His play still follows an up and down pattern when it comes to touchdown to interception ratio and his quarterback rating, but Cousins’ overall play this year feels different.

Cousins is playing very good for being on a team that is limited talent-wise and dysfunctional on the management level. He is leading the Redskins to victories and keeping them competitive in games that might have otherwise been blowouts.

Cousins’ ability to make something out of a weak roster, rolling with the mismanagement and sometimes media punches add a layer of value to him. If Cousins continues to improve on his overall game and keep his team competitive despite the roadblocks ahead, he could be in for a good payday come this offseason.

Cousins’ NFL future looks bright and if he leaves Washington, D.C. next spring for a more stable team, his career could take off, making him a solid tier two quarterback.


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Top Ten #MSU Tweets: February

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Top Ten #MSU Tweets: February

1. Per @DannySheridan1, Le’Veon Bell’s current odds on winning next year’s Heisman are 75:1. (@L_Bell24) #msu #spartans

2. Izzo, simply the best coach in America http://tinyurl.com/72lq6ux #msu #michiganstate

3. my roommate just dropped some crazy news to me #sleepwalking

4. Love that michigan people are asking to come up here to party… ill be damned if i every go back to U of M to party

5. The only valentine I received today was from my Grandma. Let me tell you that she’s the best valentine anyone could ever ask for

6. merging onto the sidewalks at msu are like merging on to a 4 lane highway #dangerous #livinglifeontheedge

7. I always think people get too in to msu basketball, but then i turn on spartan hockey and i understand… #gogreen

8. #worstdecisionofmylife Two 8:30s and an 8 am

9. I feel like a bird is gonna fly out from this guy’s dreads sitting in front of me #cleanupdude

10. Damn, some kid just out walked me to the last strawberry smoothy at Brody You got to let the dude who can barely walk get that Smh #cmonman

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A New Dance Team Emerges at MSU

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A New Dance Team Emerges at MSU

By Kevin Burrows

Starting new clubs on campus may be challenging, but after jumping through a few hoops, four girls successfully created a competitive dance team for Michigan State University.

MSU Elite Competitive Dance is a student-run organization, established in June 2011, which provides students with the opportunity to dance competitively at the college level.

MSU Elite focuses on jazz, lyrical, hip-hop and some pom. Group members and guest choreographers choreograph pieces. They will have a spring showcase toward the end of the spring semester.

MSU Elite Dance Team

“We wanted to start our own dance team because we still wanted to be at a competitive level, but not too intense. We wanted to have time to enjoy college life and not be overwhelmed,” said Rachel Bonello, communications student and vice president of MSU Elite.

MSU Elite host events including competitions, conventions, philanthropies, fundraisers, performances and other on-campus events such as Sparticipation and the Homecoming parade, Bonello said.

“Team building, community service and excelling in dance are three important things MSU Elite supports,” said Heather Popoff, MSU nursing student and president of MSU Elite.

The team is eager and excited to start their first year as they have just completed their first dance competition that took place at Cobo Hall in Detroit on November 12.

The competition was hosted by JAMfest, which is international event productions company that hosts about 70 cheer and dance competitions across the United States, Europe and Canada.

After their first and successful competition at the Cobo Center in Detroit, MSU Elite placed first in both the hip-hop and jazz categories. MSU Elite was also awarded best chorography for their hip-hop dance.

“The team worked really hard these past few weeks to make sure we were ready for our first competition,” Bonello said. “It was a great competition to get our foot in the door.”

Bonello added that it was a great feeling to compete with fellow Spartans for the first time.

The team said they are very happy with their accomplishments and excited for future events and are very happy with the support they’ve been getting and hope it continues.

“We all had a lot of fun at our competition and are proud to place first for only practicing for a month, and I am looking forward to growing with the team” Popoff said.

Being a student-run organization offers members the opportunity to choreograph, teach and learn a wide variety of styles.

“Winning isn’t everything. To get awards, work together and represent MSU as a talented university is what we’re looking to do,” Popoff said.

One of the biggest obstacles MSU Elite faced was stabilizing their financial status.

“Finances have been our biggest obstacle, trying to find practice space and costumes that are affordable to us students paying tuition can be a challenge,” Popoff said.

The team is involved in fundraisers such as selling fan shirts and hosting events at local restaurants. They recently held a fundraiser at Dublin Irish Pub on November 9.

MSU Elite would appreciate all and any support from other Spartans, especially for their first event of this new dance team.

If you’re interested in supporting MSU Elite in any way and want more information on all their upcoming events you can visit their Facebook page.

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A Spartan Identity

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A Spartan Identity

Rallying Spartan crowds since 1989, Sparty’s identity prevails as one of Michigan State’s greatest mysteries. The lovable and spirited Sparty has become a super star figure, but the students behind the green giant remain hidden. Named the National Mascot Champion three times in just four years, Sparty has reached celebrity status, yet his true identity remains one of MSU’s best-kept secrets.

“Some Spartys aren’t as trustworthy as others,” Sparty Mascot Program director Ben Hatala said. “If too many people find out, we remove them from the program.” The Sparty Mascot Program is coordinated by the MSU Student Alumni Foundation (SAF). The student-run program organizes events and Sparty escorts while working to preserve the Sparty identity. Sparty – not the student – is known for his school spirit at university games and events, as well as his special guest appearances at weddings and charity events. Yet, it takes a special person to be the fiery front-runner. Not only do physical requirements apply, mandating that individuals be between 5’10 and 6’2 and light enough to fit in the costume, but students must also showcase an energetic character.

Hatala is in charge of selecting mascots among the Sparty hopefuls. “We look for unique, charismatic, energetic people – people who are excited even when we’re losing. They have to have a level head on their shoulders,” Hatala said. But more than that, a Sparty must be trustworthy. According to Hatala, Sparty’s student identity is kept secret in order to maintain Sparty’s character as his own. “We strive to make Sparty his own person. We want Sparty to be Sparty, not someone else,” he said. He also said there is only one Sparty at any one time in the effort to uphold the single character of Sparty. With all Sparty’s publicity and involvement however, it seems impossible that the person beneath it all might remain concealed. It takes careful planning and trustworthy friends to maintain such a well-kept secret. And assuring secrecy isn’t an easy task when the person keeping it is always disappearing.

For an MSU student and former Sparty who has chosen to remain anonymous, leading the double life had its hardships. After three challenging rounds of auditions, the student earned the mascot spot. Try-outs he said, were physically demanding. He filled Hatala’s criteria and made a very lively and convincing Sparty. “I just had a lot of fun with it and tried to be as over the top as possible. And being a super dancer helped,” the former Sparty said. To rid himself of any suspicion, he often told others he was doing uninteresting things. Trips to the library, meetings and home visits were the extent of his weekly activities – or so he led others to believe. After just two weeks however, the job became too demanding. “I quit because it was more than I was ready to handle,” he said. “It was a lot more work than I thought it would be.”

That’s not to say though the Sparty veteran didn’t have any fun. “My favorite thing was getting to interact with people you knew but they didn’t know it was you,” he said. In reward of sporting the 40-pound costume, students like him are awarded a varsity letter. In order to protect their identities though, the letter must remain unattributed to Sparty.

State-goers have long speculated the duties and perks of playing Sparty, but most remain rumors. Gossip of scholarships, pay and free admittance to events have characterized the common but false perception of the Sparty position. Although Sparty is unpaid, the director sees it as a good thing. “It keeps kids in the program who want to be in it for the right reasons,” said Hatala. It is also a common misconception that only males can be Sparty. While the size requirements do typically attract more males than females, there was a female Sparty.

Contrary to Hatala’s assertion, the former Sparty says there is not just one Sparty, but several. According to the student, high profile events, like football games, are saved for the more “experienced Spartys.” These differences of account are yet another mystery surrounding the famous mascot.

Sparty tryouts are also largely undisclosed. For those uninvolved in the SAF, information regarding Sparty tryouts is hard to come by. Only a handful of connected students know about the auditions. Held in the auxiliary gym at the Breslin Student Events Center, Sparty hopefuls undertake a variety of challenges including push-ups, dances, improvisation and crowd rallying. These situations prepare them for what will eventually be interactions with cheerleaders and dancers, as well as on-the-spot crowd entertainment.

Students must make it through three rounds of tryouts before permanently donning the Spartan wear. Like all auditioners, the anonymous Sparty had to prove he could handle the costume. Running and performing push-ups with four-fingered hands and massive shoes are only two of the mascot’s demanding duties. For most Sparty candidates, improvisation is the breaking point of their performance. Auditions crowd member Kelley Smith, found the auditions highly entertaining. “There seem to be some really interesting people under the costume,” Smith said. “It’s funny to see how different people interpret how Sparty should be.”

Auditions begin with the mascot’s introduction to a modestly sized crowd, who cheer on the mascot as if it were a real event. The fight song commences and Sparty must run in, pump up the crowd and get them singing along. Next, Sparty is challenged with some scenario situations. Because there are limits to what Sparty can do, he is tested in tough situations like interacting with a shy child. Sparty must attempt to win the child’s trust without scaring or invading the child’s personal space. In addition, he must show that he can handle bad talk from a MSU bully. For one bold candidate who tackled his harasser, the crowd’s reaction suggested this Sparty would not move on to round two. For the seven other contestants, their physically friendly responses to the teasing were much more accepted. Following the test situations is improvisation. Sparty is directed to a table of props consisting of items like a body bag, a pillow chicken drumstick, a sled and hockey sticks. From these objects, he must use one in three different, unconventional ways. After all that, Sparty ends the routine by convincing the crowd he knows how to shake it. Participants must immediately switch up their dance moves to a CD of changing songs. The tracks include hip-hop, rap, pop rock and the classics, during all of which Sparty has to keep his feet, hands and body moving.

Having watched the animated performances of the eight Sparty contestants, Smith realized the work put in behind the mask. Like many others, it shocked him to find Sparty received nothing in reward of his work. “I know other schools’ mascots get scholarships, and it seems like a lot of work. I think he deserves one,” Smith said. He too wished he could don the mascot costume. Just a few inches taller, and it might have been. For those fit and lively enough to rally their fellow Spartans, there is no saying who may be the Sparty identity. Even if the strong Spartan face may not appear at all familiar, the person beneath could be your closest friend.

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