3rd Annual SAAC Talent Show: A Huge Hit

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Updated: February 15, 2017

Photo courtesy of the School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University. 

The Student-Athlete Advisory Council held its annual talent show Thursday night at the Statler Auditorium. The event, always a hit with the athlete community, was a chance for athletes to show off some non-athletic talents they may have – or athletic, too, such as the push-up contest with the winner cranking out 85 push-ups to take the win. The talent show was held to support the Ithaca Kitchen Cupboard, a food pantry run by the Salvation Army, and admission cost five dollars or two canned goods.

Stakes were high with acts competing for $100 to Chipotle (1st place), $50 to Collegetown Bagels (2nd place) and $25 to Starbucks (3rd place). Ultimately, winners were determined by the group who could raise the most Venmo donations during the show, but commentary from the three-judge panel added color to the night. This year’s esteemed judges included Dane Schreiner, assistant strength and conditioning coach; Trudy Vande Berg, head coach of the Women’s volleyball team, and the ever-present Denise Cassaro. Hosting were former presidents of SAAC, Krystin Chiellini from gymnastics and senior Jackson Weber from football.

Opening the night with the first act was women’s field hockey performing a classic synchronized swimming routine. The group wore matching black swimsuits with “dope” printed across the front. One member reported afterwards to the Big Red Sports Network that the talent show is a requirement for the freshman class each year. She also said the team spent one two-and-a-half-hour practice session to conceive and perfect the act, which turned out to be on the high end of practice hours for the talent show. Comments from the judges included Denise Cassaro’s admission that “[she has] a beef with field hockey because in high school, they wouldn’t let [her] play because [she] was left-handed” and Shreiner noting that “it was synchronized swimming, but appeared to be synchronized sinking.” Nonetheless, the group proved the skeptical judges wrong by taking first place for the evening, raising $214 for their act alone and winning the “Team Spirit Award.”

There were two excellent original solo raps performed by members of the men’s track and field team, but the stand out was Chudi Ilogu, a sophomore in the ILR school. He got the audience involved and helping with the chorus line by chanting, “This girl is trouble, trouble” while some fellow track members danced wildly in support. The judges were equally fanatic about the performance. Ilogu took third place for the night, winning a $25 Starbucks gift card as well as a “Best Vocal Performance” award. Not to be outdone, rapper and runner Brailin Paulino took home a “Most Original” award for his song.

Representing the men’s and women’s polo team, Dan Shaw and Jenny Nelson sang a duet performance of “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. Although the singing was beautiful, judge Dane Schreiner remarked that he would have liked to “see a little more emotional connection” and Vande Berg agreed, saying she wanted “a little more chemistry.” The performers’ response? “He has a girlfriend.” Fair enough.

Another standout solo came in the form of a keyboard performance by senior lightweight rower Olav Imsdahl. Imsdahl, wearing a piano tie, sang a German song (translated to English) about an unhappy lover who becomes increasingly violent as the song progresses. His hilarious performance prompted Cassaro to comment, “nothing like a good dose of anger issues!” Olav took home the “Funniest Act Award.”

From the swim and dive team, a duo performed a pi recitation. While one performer recited 200 digits of pi, swimmer Ryan Brown attempted to consume an entire, 2600 calorie pie. As he proved unable to finish it before his partner reached 200 digits, Ryan soon found the remainder of the pie smashed on his face. The act won the “Holy Shit Award” from Trudy Vande Berg for the pi recitation.

“The Boys Next Dorm”, a group on campus with minor Facebook fame, introduced themselves to the crowd with a funny video introduction, an original ukulele song and a dance. The lesson from the performance, although entertaining, seemed to be that they would like you to “like” them on Facebook (in case you missed it).

Finally, members of the men’s and women’s rowing team including Elias Abilheira and Basia Sudol, performed an excellent, and censored, cover of Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen.” According to Abilheira, inspiration for the Trap Queen cover came from a version he had seen on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. As for the four-member band set-up, Abilheira said he and a few other crew members had gone to see the Broadway musical Jersey Boys recently and were joking about making their own group until he realized, “Why not?” The rest is history. The group organized for a “power hour” on Tuesday before the Thursday night show and will certainly be returning again next year. Abilheira added the talent show performance was “literally the first time I’ve ever sang outside the shower.” The group, appropriately named the “Oarsome Foursome Band” brought home 2nd place in donations and a $50 Collegetown Bagels gift card.

Overall, the night seemed to be a huge success with donations exceeding $800 in addition to the canned goods donated. Jackson Weber, co-master of ceremony, noted that although the crowd size seemed comparable to last year, there was far more audience involvement and excitement. The Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) looks forward to hosting its fourth talent show next year.

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