The 2023 Relays theme “Making Waves” was chosen for both its physical and metaphorical meanings, serving as the basis for many of the changes made by the Relays co-chairs to this year’s schedule of traditions.
Every year, the two Relays chairs on the Student Activities Board (SAB) are in charge of planning the entirety of Relays, besides the concert — including the Blitz Day event, many of the student traditions and the Relays theme.
This year’s co-chairs, sophomores Maria Husting and Eva Kellen, said they picked the theme of “Making Waves” for several reasons.
“The title is really two-fold,” Maria Husting said. “The first reason why we picked it is just because I wanted to do something like a water gun fight or a water balloon fight… but also the Drake community is having a ton of important conversations right now…and we wanted to encourage that with ‘Making Waves.’”
According to Husting, ‘Making Waves’ was the first theme they came up with. They thought of three other themes after that, but never changed their mind because of how much the message meant to them.
“I think a lot of times we can get stuck in our ways and do things how we’ve always done things,” Husting said. “I think this year’s Relays is a perfect example of ‘Making Waves’, like there are things we have always done that we aren’t doing anymore.”
Among the major changes to this year’s Relays included several additions to the Wednesday Carnival, a new requirement for the Sunday Road Races and a decreased amount of total events, so they could spend more money on making the big events better.
“At the carnival, we were able to get a ton of new blow-up water things…we have two different water slides that are going to be there and a double lane slip-n-slide,” Husting said.
For the Road Races, they instituted a new rule that all student organizations with a painted square on painted street needed to have a group of people cheering on runners at the 5k, 10k and half marathon races. The organization with the best cheering section, as voted on by the runners, will be awarded $500 from the Drake Athletics Department at the end of Relays Week.
“The feedback from runners last year was that they really liked having the cheer-ers, and it made a big difference in the energy of the whole event,” Husting said. “Plus, all of our organizations could use that $500, so why not do it?”
Lastly, the co-chairs decided to add an event with Yoga + Co on Monday to help people relax before the craziness of the week.
“For Lindsay Bordwell [owner of Yoga + Co.] to be willing to come to Drake and do this event for free, that is an amazing low-cost event we are so excited to do,” she said.
Kylie Ellis, SAB president and a senior at Drake, said she is so proud of this year’s Relays co-chairs — especially since so much of their work goes unnoticed.
“They have their clocked-in office hours for the whole year, but one or both of them are literally working in here constantly,” Ellis said. “Their job does not end when their office hours are up for the week.”
Ellis estimated that, over the course of the school year, the girls have spent over 150 unpaid hours apiece to make Relays come to life.
“They are driven and dedicated to making this year’s Relays the best the school’s ever seen,” Ellis said.
Despite the fact Relays has been a huge amount of work for her and her co-chair Kellen, Husting said seeing all of her ideas come to life has meant the world to her.
“Relays is something so much bigger than students,” she said. “Being able to plan Relays has been really helpful to me, because I know it is something that makes our community better and brings us together.”