Greek Row gears up for Tugs


By Keith Hernandez

Everyone has their reasons for tugging.

Tugs is a weeklong tug-of-war competition between fraternities and it will start on April 21.

Alpha Kappa Lambda

Junior economics major Matt Cavanaugh, Alpha Kappa Lambda president and tugger, said his team is ready to tug again after two years of inactivity due to lack of manpower and drive.

“… It’s good to be back on the rope, and I’m excited to see how we’re going to do,” Cavanaugh said. “People realized how big of a deal it is on campus, so we wanted to participate in the event.”

Cavanaugh said there is a lot to learn to become a winning team, but that has not deterred him from competing.

“It takes a lot of years of experience, and this is like our first year,” Cavanaugh said. “It feels good to have the whole Greek Row behind you for an event, and you’re pumped to go all out for the people on your rope to not let them down and to try to win.”

Delta Chi

Jeff Meyer, sophomore computer science major, will captain Delta Chi in its first Tugs as its own team. Meyer said up until a week ago, Delta Chi was partnered with Phi Kappa Sigma, but the fraternity had to withdraw due to lack of tuggers.

“I’m glad that our house is representing ourself by ourselves,” Meyer said. “It’s a matter of pride for me and a lot of guys in our house.”

This is Meyer’s second year tugging. He said he is a lot more prepared than he was last year.

“Last year, I know going into a match it was like my heart was racing. [My] mind was all scattered because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Meyer said. “This year, or at least the scrimmages I’ve done so far, is more of going over the basics in my head, making sure I have all my movements right and kind of mentally rehearsing how we’re going to do it.”

Fratastic Four

Sophomore biology major Paul Sliwka, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member, will tug for the first time with the “Fratastic Four,” a group of Greek letter organizations composed of Theta Chi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Delta Upsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon. Sliwka said he is looking forward to his first match.

“I’ve seen Tug matches before and it’s almost intimidating,” Sliwka said. “But at the same time, it should be a lot of fun.”

Tugs was hosted by Sigma Phi Epsilon from 1986 to 2007, when it lost its charter at NIU. Since the fraternity’s return in 2011, it has suffered from low membership. Sliwka said Sigma Phi Epsilon could one day grow big enough to have its own team again.

“I could see it being a goal in the future,” Sliwka said. “We have up to 30 members, but if we had enough guys, that would be a possibility.”

Phi Kappa Psi

Kyle Bak, senior political science major, has tugged for Phi Kappa Psi for two years. This year’s Tugs will be his last.

“[Tugs] is the best feeling you could ever feel,” Bak said. “Brothers that I’ve had that have played football for the state championship have said it’s a similar feeling.”

Phi Kappa Psi, alongside Sigma Alpha Mu, won the 2011 Tugs Championship as a new team. Bak said his team has the same energy this year.

“It’s probably the biggest accomplishment in college so far,” Bak said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys out, so it’s really exciting.”

Phi Kappa Theta

Trevor Morrison, senior corporate and organizational communications major, doubles up as a team captain and tugger for Phi Kappa Theta. He said he looks forward to seeing his team’s hard work pay off during Tugs.

“We have … been focusing on keeping our minds sharp and staying positive through every training exercise,” Morrison said. “It’s unlike anything you have ever trained for because some teams train for six months and they can end up only tugging one match the entire season. There’s a lot of pressure on us to perform.”

Phi Kappa Theta finished last year’s Tugs in second place against Phi Sigma Kappa. Morrison said he has learned from last year’s mistakes.

“We are taught to look at one match at a time and not to overlook any of the competition,” Morrison said. “I know we have the potential to go all the way.”

Phi Sigma Kappa

Senior economics major Matt Augustyn, Phi Sigma Kappa tugger, said he is anxious for the tournament.

“As always, I’m excited to get out there, and I hate that it’s a week away,” Augustyn said.

Phi Sigma Kappa won the last two Tugs Championships, as well as the 2010 championship. Augustyn, who has been on the rope for five years, said Tugs is about not giving up on your brothers.

“It’s like a brotherhood within a brotherhood,” Augustyn said. “You’re with eight other guys and you’re doing it for them.”

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Lucas Marinello, senior corporate and organizational communications major, is a captain and tugger for Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which finished third in last year’s Tugs competition. Marinello said he and his brothers, who have been on the team since they were freshmen, have dedicated a lot of time and effort to the competition this year.

“We basically put our entire heart into this season to try to make it what it is,” Marinello said. “Regardless of the weather conditions, everyone gets out there and does what they can so they can become that next Cinderella story … and show Greek Row the men that we are.”

Marinello said the moments before a match are filled with contemplation.

“You go through the motions in your head, you know? — every move, every call, and you’re always trying to read the other team,” Marinello said. “You want to get those guys that you’re about to go to battle with … as juiced up, energetic and ready to go as possible.”

Sigma Alpha Mu

Larry Alcaraz, senior political science major, is a tugger for Sigma Alpha Mu. This year, Alcaraz’s fourth and last, he said he is committed to Tugs, as well as his academics.

“I try to come to every practice and try to practice as hard as I can to try to get my stuff ready for next week,” Alcaraz said.

This is Sigma Alpha Mu’s third year as a single team. It won the 2011 Tugs Championship alongside Phi Kappa Psi. Alcaraz said he tries to stay calm before the first match.

“I kind of zone everything out and get as focused as possible and just focus on the other team,” Alcaraz said. “It’s about the dedication of our house, so I’m happy to put my body on the rope.”

Sigma Nu

John Ilagan, senior operation and information management major, is a Sigma Nu team captain and tugger. Ilagan said his team trains every year for first place, but he is going to keep his mind off the tournament for now.

“I just want to take it one day at a time. I’ll start thinking about our first match 24 hours before game time,” Ilagan said. “Our tuggers have the right mindset and the right attitude to go far into the tournament.”

Most of Sigma Nu’s team graduated last year, ushering in a younger, inexperienced majority. Ilagan said there are advantages to the roster.

“On the bright side, we are probably the heaviest and strongest Tugs team in Sigma Nu history,” Ilagan said. “I have full confidence we can do some damage and make a statement next week.”