Saturday, September 04, 2004

To Those About to Slip N Slide...I Salute You!!!

A group of University of Kansas students have successfully put together one of the most unique clubs in school history: the first ever Slide 'n' Slide club. Looking to capitalize on student desires to recapture the thrill of activities they participated in years gone by, the club offers members a chance to once again enjoy backyard water sports.

Sophomore and club president, Libby McConnell, says she and her friends were fed up with participating in more rigorous and demanding sports clubs at KU. Because they wanted to stay active on campus, in January the group came to the conclusion that the University may have a place for an organization dedicated to the Slip 'n' Slide.

"We came to the conclusion of, "Slip 'n' sliding? Why not," McConnell said. "We started this club (joking around), and we're really surprised that the Center for Campus Life has approved us as an official club."

The KU campus and Lawrence community have responded with extremely positive for the new club. Some people are amazed that the University has officially recognized such a unique sports club. McConnell and the club's other officers have written up a proposal for funding that was presented before the school's Student Senate. The Senators agreed to fund the club $431. The only catch was that the club's vice-president, sophomore Liz Newman, was asked to sing the Slip 'n' Slide theme song (which she did successfully, according to the Student Senators).

Already, the club has purchased $250 worth of supplies: Slip 'n' Slides, water hoses, sprinklers and beach towels. The club will receive another $431 next semester.

"A handful of people just look at us like we're crazy, but we don't want people like that in our club anyway," McConnell said. "We're really relaxed and laid back, an excuse for people to get together and have fun."

Attempts to secure sponsorship from Slip 'n' Slide's commercial distributor and creator (Wham-O!) have so far been unsuccessful. McConnell suspects that the product's creators would not want to endorse a group of people that exceed the weight and height requirement warnings on the packaging of the product. Warnings for the toy urge people only five to 12 in age, less than five feet tall, and less than 110 pounds, to use Slip 'n' Slide. The club's officers dismiss the warnings as being overly cautious and even ridiculous.

The club has already developed a Web site that details the group's mission, as well as allows students to get involved with the organization. For hardcore Slip 'n' Slide fans, there is also links to buy merchandise through the club. These items range from a Slip 'n' Slide T-shirt, to swimwear that can be worn while sliding.

"We definitely incorporate Slip 'n' Sliding into everything we do," McConnell said. "It's much more interesting to say you're in the slip and slide club as opposed to just in a group of friends. It gives a name and provides a fun conversation topic."

The club is also aspiring to secure loftier goals. Club member Tommy Bobo will try to earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World this fall when he tries to set the world record for the longest Slip 'n' Slide run. The North Augusta, S.C., junior plans to build his own 300-foot slide out of high-density plastic sheeting and slide down Mount Oread (a famous, lengthy slope on the hilly campus).

Bobo's attempt will pay homage to the University's celebrity daredevil, Dan Wessell. In 1973, Wessell or, "The Great Wessellini," attempted to fly over Memorial Stadium in a home-built airplane, and a year later tried to skateboard over Potter Lake in a Plexiglas bubble. While Wessell was unsuccessful in both attempts, Bobo is still in the process of working out what he hopes will be a much more memorable stunt. All he needs now is to figure out how to get enough water up the hill to campus.

For now, the group is happy to have made their mark on campus this year. With summer being a time when students in Lawrence leave to head back home for a few months, the group says it will be reinvigorated to get things rolling in the fall after tasting success in their first event in May.

"Our kickoff party on May 1st went really, really well," McConnell said. "We had a lot of people show up, a definite success, especially for the first ever meeting."


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