From 10 in the morning to three in the afternoon last Saturday, hundreds of people tried their hands at Mud Tug — a tug of war competition organized by Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) and Phi Kappa Psi. As the 23rd successive year of the event, the two Greek organizations were able to donate a record amount of money to the Hillside Family of Agencies — a local Rochester foundation that has been the charity of choice for the Mud Tug since the event’s inception in 1995.

“It’s awesome to give to a local charity because we know that it’s impacting the local Rochester community.”

Many of the donations come from the event’s sponsors, which is a mix between large companies and local businesses. This year, American Campus Groups, HBO, Texas Roadhouse and DP Dough were all key sponsors.

DP Dough even gave out 1000 free calzones at the event.

“They were handing out business cards that said, ‘Go Tigers,'” said Jordan Dejewski a third year Biomedical Engineering major and the Phi Kappa Psi historian. “All you [had] to do [was] call them up.”

Texas Roadhouse also set up a grill and handed out free hot dogs and burgers to over 1000 hungry participants, spectators and organizers.

Putting It Together

Photo by Cheyenne Boone

To get more than 1000 people at Mud Tug, ZTA and Phi Kappa Psi had to rethink their marketing campaign for this year.

"Social media was a lot more engaged,” said Ashley Crichton, a third year Advertising Photography major and the event’s co-chair from ZTA. “We have over a thousand [Twitter] followers now.”The Mud Tug website also streamlined registration.

“Literally anyone can sign up at any time [now],” said Marshall Rioux, a fourth year Biomedical Engineering student and the Mud Tug co-chair from Phi Kappa Psi. “So not only can RIT students do it, but we can have [people from the] University of Rochester, Brockport, or MCC [join in] as well ... It’s open to the public.”

All this hard work paid off when almost 100 teams from all around the local area showed up — each decked out with creative names and personalized shirts.

“Engineering House came with three teams today ... Swimming has four teams,” Dejewski recounted.

The TeamsThe competition may seem daunting, but “average Joe”-style teams still had a shot at winning.

By the semifinals, Alex Soule, a first year Jewelry Design major, observed that “anyone who looked really strong is out: It’s all the underdogs that’s left.”

When asked, Soule stated her team was created by the coming together of a diverse group of individuals.

"We ended up with a nice 'Breakfast Club' bunch of people," Soule said. 

Soule's team also identified strongly with that of Katherine D'Anjolell's "Team Onye."

“If we take the muscle percentage of everybody [on the team], we might make half of a body builder,” third year Mechanical Engineering student Katherine D'Anjolell assessed. Dylan Jackson, a first year Computerl Sciencer major and another member of Team Onye, agreed with Soule's recounts of team formation. His team asked roommates and friends of friends to fill their ranks. Soon enough, they were able to form a team. 

"We were just a squadron of friends looking for something cool to do," Jackson added. 

Although having a diverse group, Team Onye's first of three matches against an opponent ended in a quick and muddy defeat. It was then when an unfamiliar man came up to the team and diverged his secret to tug of war.

“[He] just said, ‘You gotta get your ass to the grass,’ and that’s how we’ve been winning,” D'Anjolell recounted.

Using this tactic, Team Onye was propelled into the semifinals where they were confident in a victory against their opponent team "Steel Beams and Dank Memes."“We’re not fighting for third,” proclaimed Ally Johnston, another member of Team Onye and a third year Journalism major. “It’s first or nothing!”

The Outcome

Photo by Jesse Wolfe

Team Onye’s indomitable strategy ended up being dropped into the mud along with them, as they lost their match against Steel Beams and Dank Memes. “Wrestling has dominated the last three years,” Dejewski recalled.

However, it was still possible for non-wrestling teams to win this year. When the dust settled and the mud dried, three teams emerged victorious. "Raiders of the Night" became the champions of the Men'sbracket. "Cheer" took the crown in the Women's bracket. Lastly, Steel Beams and Dank Memes emerged victorious in the co-ed Bracket.

Yet winning wasn’t what the event was primarily about. Rioux stated his favorite thing about the day was seeing the happiness of others.

"Jjust seeing all the people have fun; putting literally hundreds of hours into this thing and seeing people have a good time,” Rioux recalled. 

Mud Tug has become a huge and loved event at RIT and will continue for years to come