Top of the Morning, Feb. 25, 2014

Top of the Morning, Feb. 25, 2014

UI academic counselor Kathy Kaler is a Jock Jams veteran, having attended every one of the popular charity events at Huff Hall. With Jock Jams No. 5 at 7 p.m. today — $5 tickets, 19 UI teams doing skits, $60,000 raised the first four years — we turned to the Illini Life Skills coordinator for her favorite moments:

1 Women's track & field's incredible performance of Michael Jackson hits, including "Thriller" (above). Every year as people start talking about Jock Jams, this act always gets brought up.

2 Men's gymnastics in 2010. Following Justin Spring's performance in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he toured the country with the USA men's and women's gymnastics teams and in the show performed several dances. Justin taught this dance to the team and performed with them at Jock Jams. The high-energy act which ended with performances on the pommel horse brought the house down and helped the team claim the first Jock Jams title.

3 Men's gymnastics in 2012. I thought their synchronized swimming/surfer boy act was really fun and unique.

4 Davis Fraker from men's track & field. Every year, I've looked forward to Davis' performance. Davis, a thrower on the team, is a big guy, so when he first appeared on the stage in gold tights and on roller skates, he was an instant hit. He's followed up that performance as a flower, and last year did a leaping, spinning ribbon dance that culminated with Davis re-enacting the final dance scene from "Dirty Dancing," lifting Luke Carroll above his head as men's track claimed the title. Hope we get to see him again this year.

5 Illini coaches got in on Jock Jams in 2013, creating a hysterical video showing swimming coach Sue Novitsky and her coaching colleagues training men's assistant gymnast coach Ivan Ivankov to break the Guinness World Record for handstands, which he did right on the Jock Jams stage.

UI junior Ross Guignon and his men's tennis teammates will be part of tonight's show. He was kind enough to answer our questions beforehand:

1. What's the best act you've seen?

Probably a couple years back when women's tack and field did a dance to the song "Thriller" by Michael Jackson. It was great, here's a youtube link attached.

2. What athlete is going to wind up in Hollywood?

I would have to say Davis Fraker, a thrower for the men's track & field team. That prediction is based solely on his past couple Jock Jams performances which have been big time crowd-pleasers!

3. What men's tennis going to do tonight?

We'll perform a song and dance, going with the boy band theme to try and steal the show!

4. Does anyone practice for Jock Jams?

It certainly depends on which team you're talking about. Like any competition, there are some teams that prepare better than others. For the teams that are in season it may be a little harder to get practice in, but overall across the board I'd say there is a fair amount of practice that goes into each skit.

5. What's more nerve-wracking, a fifth-set tiebreaker or getting up on stage at Huff?

The nice thing about being on stage at Huff Hall is the spotlight is on you big time. As nerve-wracking as that sounds, it's then so dark in the audience you can't see much off the stage. We'll call it a tie though!

6. What coach on campus would be best at Jock Jams?

Teams get a bonus five points to their score for incorporating their head coach! Last year coach Sue Novitsky of women's swimming and diving stole the show in terms of coaches with her participation in her team's dance to "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore. There are always tons of great efforts from the coaches! If all the coaches were to participate I would have to vote Coach Groce as the one with the most potential! Seeing all the enthusiasm and movement he uses while coaching in the midst of a game makes me think he would have some stellar dance moves!

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