Photo by Diana Kim
Country music filled the Caf with its Southern-influenced lyrics and twang. Different patterns of plaid, paired with leather and cowboy boots, colored the room. Sweet tea and cupcakes lined the side wall, and a mechanical bull in the center of the floor replaced the round and rectangular tables normally there. The Gamma Phi Beta Rodeo had again returned.
The annual event, hosted by the Gamma Phi Beta sorority and put on for affiliated and unaffiliated students took place in the Caf raised for an organization called Girls on the Run.
Girls on the Run is a nonprofit program that strives to encourage preteen girls in developing self-worth and healthy lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, culminating in a celebratory 5K race, according to its website.
Pepperdine junior and Gamma Phi Beta member Amanda Wexler said the sorority’s mission is to build strong girls, and the organization sponsored by the rodeo fulfills this mission.
“Younger girls are paired up with mentors, who encourage them and help them train to run a 5K, build confidence and help them realize that they are beautiful and strong girls,” Wexler said.
As attendees lined up for the event, junior and Gamma Phi Beta pledge Meredith Beyer revealed the night’s events.
“Different sororities and fraternities are going to compete against each other in games like cowboy golf and cornhole,” Beyer said. “They’re going to ride a mechanical bull, learn a line dance — all while sipping on Chick-fil-A iced tea and eating popcorn and Georgetown cupcakes.”
Junior Jackson Overstreet, first-time attendee of the rodeo and pledge of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, said he was excited for the night’s events.
“I think the lovely ladies of Gamma Phi Beta are going to throw an awesome event tonight,” Overstreet said.
Each Greek organization nominated one representative to compete in each game and contribute points to their group’s overall scores. Teams of five members, led by their Gamma Phi Beta coaches, rotated between playing cowboy golf, playing horseshoe, line dancing taught by junior and Dance in Flight cast member Lexi Howerton and — the final, and perhaps most quintessential rodeo competition — riding the mechanical bull. Amidst all of the activity, students eager for a challenge paid $1 to hang onto the simulation ride, attempting to not get thrown off.
Freshman and Alpha Phi member Taylor Grisham explained her experience of riding the bull.
“It was pretty great, I pretty much just went in circles,” Grisham said. “I loved that I got to ride a bull while supporting G-Phi.”
Members of Gamma Phi Beta were assigned various tasks to help organize the event, according to freshman pledge Jessie Mandel. Mandel said she was also the PiPhi coach and in charge of cowboy golf.
Juniors and Pi Beta Phi members Monica McGinty and Elizabeth Teklits explained with nervous excitement their anticipation for their upcoming events.
“I was pretty nervous about coming because I’m riding the bull,” McGinty said. “I thought it was going to be a lot of people that are really good at this, but really it’s just a welcoming environment, and I feel like people will accept me even if I do bad.”
Teklits said the event is unique and fun.
“This is a really cool philanthropy because it has so many activities,” she said. “I am definitely looking forward to cowboy golf most because I play cowboy golf. It is the underdog of the events. I’m expecting to get all three.”
As the night came to a close, unaffiliated senior Jared Chance said he loved the rodeo because, “I loved seeing all of my friends.
“[There are] a lot of girls in this sorority who I am close to, and who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I felt a sense of community tonight.”
After all of the points had been tallied, Tri Delta and Sigma Chi won the event.
Even considering the competitive nature of the philanthropy event, Wexler said she loves it because they get to have fun for a great cause.
“I really love our philanthropy because it’s so relaxed,” Wexler said. “We just say, ‘Let’s all get together and have sweet tea and ride a mechanical bull.’ It’s just a good time, and an easy way to raise money for our mission.”