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Nine in the Spine: A hole-in-one when it comes to connecting

UAA’s Alumni Association hosted their third annual Nine in the Spine on Feb. 24 – a friendly round of mini-golf among current and former Seawolves. The event is designed to provide networking opportunities.

A total of 18 student clubs designed their own mini golf hole for the event, creating two nine-hole courses that stretched from Rasmuson Hall to the Social Science Building. Teams composed of Alumni members and students were greeted by different clubs as they putted their way across the spine.

“[It’s] a chance for teams to come together for a purpose, be creative, support one another, and yet still learn the critical project management skills that are going to help one another as they build careers after school,” event co-chair Walter Williams said of the student organizations who designed holes.

Jayson Smart, an alumni and the other co-chair, came up with the idea while working at UAA in the 1990s.

“There were many times when I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if I could hit a golf ball from one end of the campus to the other,” Smart said.

About two decades later, Smart’s fantasy became a reality, with more benefits than just the pure enjoyment of playing mini golf in one’s school.

Walter Williams helped start up “Nine in the Spine” to give more opportunities to both current and former students.

“It is a great way to get Alumni back on campus and get the clubs excited about interacting with the Alumni, which gives them opportunities to network, build relationships, and get creative.” said Williams.

The event is also a fundraiser for the Alumni Association. According to Smart, the money it raises supports the Alumni scholarship fund. Every year the fund awards six $1,000 scholarships each academic year.

Comparing it to other Alumni events, Williams appreciates the freedom of this fundraiser.

“It is one everyone can participate in, you don’t have to dress up for it,” Williams said. “Also, the students don’t have to pay anything, in fact they get prizes.”

Dottie Ochoa of the Marketing and Management Club has already seen the advantages to the event.

“Our golfer last year is now with a PR company, so it was a good networking opportunity,” said Ochoa.

Not only is it a great way to meet former members of clubs, but it can help bring additional attention to them. Robert Labrec, co-president of the Social Awareness Club, was one of the participating clubs this year.

“It brings awareness that our organization exists, because we are a fairly small club,” Labrec said. “Hopefully we get more participation; a bigger club means more events we can put on and more money we can raise.”

However, it is not all fun, games, and socializing.

“We actually put a ton of work into this. We met several Saturdays to build it,” said Meghan Carson of the Accounting Club.

As “Nine in the Spine” continues to grow, more clubs will compete to be one of the 18 organizations that build a hole and connect with former club members. It seems of all the great Alumni events, this is one will continue to be one of the more fun, artistic, and beneficial to all those involved.

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One of the many holes that alumni and UAA club members had to putt their way through. This hole was put together by Alpha Eta Rho. Photo credit: Casey Peterson
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Teams of both UAA Alumni and current UAA club members made their way through this 18 hole course. Photo credit: Casey Peterson
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The Engineering Department started the course off with this creative hole. Photo credit: Casey Peterson

Written by Jordan Rodenberger

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