WMU Paddle Battle

Originally called tug-of-war, "Paddle Battle: Ships and Giggles" took place during Homecoming week in fall 2017. 

The Western Michigan University Office of Student Engagement homecoming event, “Paddle Battle: Ships and Giggles” placed in the top three for the ‘Best Tradition’ competition at the National Association for Campus Activities National Convention.

NACA held their largest annual event in Boston from Feb. 17 to Feb. 21. This event featured more than 100 showcasing acts that included comedians, magicians and lecturers. The main reason for this convention was for schools to be able to work directly with artists and agents to bring these programs and entertainment to their campuses, according to naca.org

“We had myself and eight students who flew out to Boston,” Graduate Assistant of Campus Programs Erica Wilson said in an email interview. “During the convention, Paddle Battle’s video was posted on the NACA app and all the participants and advisors from all over the country who were at NACA voted. We didn’t win but we were in the top three and the video was shown at the convention.”

The Paddle Battle took place on Oct. 10, 2017 at the Gabel Natatorium with 10 teams competing and nearly 45 people in total participating. The event is encompassed around the idea of a tug-of-war but in water. Two inflatable boats full of team members are placed on either side of a dividing line with each team paddling to pull the other team across the dividing line to win. 

“So the Paddle Battle, which was called Tug-of-War last year, is basically just an event for students to gain spirit points for the spirit cup,” Wilson said. “They divide up into teams by student organization.”

In order to be in the running for the ‘Best Tradition’ competition, the Office of Student engagement had to submit an essay listing the Paddle Battle’s goals and marketing schemes, along with the budget and video of the event. This is the first year they entered the ‘Best Tradition’ competition and finishing in the top three was a huge accomplishment for those who helped organize the Paddle Battle.

“It is really exciting and fulfilling,” Assistant Director of Student Engagement Brianne Rogers said.

“For the last three years, the office has tried to elevate Homecoming by trying new ideas and it's exciting to see a concept take off,” Rogers said.

The individuals responsible for the planning of this event, and other homecoming events around campus, include six interns through the Office of Student Engagement. There is a marketing intern, volunteer intern, activities intern, community relations intern and a logistics intern. They are each required to plan a homecoming event while also doing their specific tasks according to their role.

“It was really cool for the student interns just because they work so hard throughout all of summer and all of fall to create Bronco Bash and then homecoming events at the same time,” Wilson said.

“Paddle Battle was previously called tug-of-war and it didn’t get the best participation and students were often confused of what it was. Our goal this year was to make the name more relevant to what the actual event was, and get more participation,” Wilson said. “I think it was a really proud moment for my student interns to see that come to full circle and get to see a cool video and know that they are being recognized.”

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