Sep 24, 2012

‘Homecoming is the Best Holiday of the Year!’

After Cindy won Homecoming Queen in 2002
Left to right: Julie Bricker, 2000 Queen, Elizabeth Anderson 
Fromm, 2002 Queen Runner-Up Carrie Foulk Connelly, 
2001 QueenSonya Khera North, 1999 Queen
That headline is a common phrase among my friends. Every Bearcat I know looks forward to this one weekend. It’s a time to celebrate the start of a new school year, to make new friends or catch up with old ones, and to show your Bearcat Pride and sing the fight song until your voice runs out.

Ten years ago, I rode in the Homecoming Parade as an honored member of the 2002 Homecoming Court. I can still smell the crisp fall air and feel the incredible anticipation of halftime when the King and Queen would be crowned. I stood in the middle of Carson Field wearing a brand new red suit with my heart pounding out of my chest … and then I heard my name called as Queen. My Chi Omega sisters erupted in a deafening cheer that echoed throughout Nippert Stadium. It’s undoubtedly one of my most cherished memories as a Bearcat. 

Cindy Chiang Halvorsen (Engineering, 2004) and Ernie
Halvorsen earned $1 million after being named co-champions
of CBS’s19th season of The Amazing Race.
2011 was yet another benchmark year in my personal storybook! My then-fiancĂ©, Ernie, and I raced around-the-world on CBS’s Emmy Award-winning reality show, The Amazing Race, ultimately winning the competition and the coveted $1 million prize. This year, we were quickly thrown into a whirlwind of TV appearances, magazine photo shoots, radio interviews, runway shows, charity events and public speaking engagements. Oh, and we somehow managed to find time to get married. 

But the one thing we have really been looking forward to all year is visiting campus for UC Homecoming! I have always tried to describe to Ernie the feeling of riding in the parade, yet couldn’t find the words to convey my most memorable undergraduate moment to him. On October 6, he actually gets to experience it first-hand as we lead the Homecoming Parade as your Grand Marshals. We feel so honored to have been asked to represent UC in this prestigious position.
Mr. and Mrs. Halvorsen 
I am so thankful for the outpouring of love and support from UC over the past 14 years. My experience on campus has been instrumental in developing the woman I am today, fostering my strong connection and deep sincerity for our university. With deep appreciation we look forward to visiting campus, a place that is very much my home.

See you at Homecoming!

Proudly UC,
Cindy Chiang Halvorsen

Sep 17, 2012

An Alumni Network Leader Comes Home

Stephanie and Dan Dodd
A crisp breeze. Blue skies. Hints of yellow and orange on the trees. It must be fall.

The distant sound of the band warming up. The laughter of students and alumni as we head to our favorite Clifton establishment early in the morning. It must be Homecoming.   
The excitement of UC Homecoming Weekend is a celebration of our campus, organizations and success as a university.  As friends and alumni gather, our college years seem so fresh in our minds and the memories come rushing back.

For me, UC Homecoming will always mean something more. I was a student enjoying another Homecoming celebration not knowing it would be a day I would come to treasure.  Just a few weeks earlier I ran into a high school classmate who was beginning his first year as a student at the UC College of Law. I hoped that I might run into him that Homecoming morning and, as it turns out, Dan hoped for the same. Twelve years later, we celebrate seven years of marriage and two beautiful little girls.

As one of the leaders of the UC Alumni Association’s Central Ohio Regional Alumni Network, I come back to campus every year for Homecoming with the opportunity to meet with other network leaders and university officials. Hearing everyone discuss the successes and passion in cities across the nation is a firm reminder that we are united and proud of our university. From game watches to cheering on our Bearcats to educational gatherings on the history of UC’s campus, our regional UCAA networks provide something for everyone. Add some new memories to your great UC memories of days gone by — Get involved with your local UC Alumni Network today!

Go Cats!

Stephanie (Wilson) Dodd
Bus ’02

If you live outside of Cincinnati, and want to get involved with the UC Alumni Association, join your alumni network!

Sep 14, 2012

Game Day Kicks Off With UCAA Bearcats Blitz at Home and On the Road

UC Alumni Association Executive Director Myron Hughes, ’86, said the Bearcats Blitz pre-game tailgate at the Myers Alumni Center felt like a UC reunion on Thursday, Sept. 6, before the Bearcats opened their 2012 season by thrashing Pittsburgh. That’s the unique, galvanizing effect of game day on a college campus. And the Pitt game was only the first of seven home games this season.

As UC football has grown and gained a more dedicated following in recent years, pre-game activity has popped up all around campus, with eager-to-tailgate alums using their ingenuity to find suitable locations. The Bearcats Blitz is a great option because it’s really a “game day open house” for anyone and everyone. There’s a pre-reserved tailgate lot next to the Myers Alumni Center with plenty of activity, but the whole area inside and outside the building is a big, happy Bearcat Zone where everyone is welcome.

The Blitz officially opens four hours prior to kickoff and features big-screen TVs to catch other action from college football, clean amenities for the family, inexpensive drinks and free popcorn, prize raffles, and a UC Bookstore outlet on site (with a 10% discount for all UCAA donors). When the weather is hot, it’s cool inside; when the weather turns cold, it’s warm inside! There are food vendors just outside between the Alumni Center and The Grid tailgate area on Campus Green and Sigma Sigma Commons.

Maybe best of all, the Blitz tailgate lot is the starting point for the CATWALK, the football team’s traditional walk through campus to the stadium. Starting about 2 ½ hours before game time, the CATWALK moves from the Blitz through The Grid to the cheers of hundreds of Bearcat fans. And it makes a huge difference for the team, according to Head Coach Butch Jones.

For more about making the most of game days at UC, visit

And check out the plans for Bearcats On The Road, UCAA’s “traveling tailgate” to UC away games this fall at Washington D.C. (Virginia Tech), Toledo, Louisville and Temple.

Sep 13, 2012

UC Alum Competes in 2012 World Cross Fit Games

Leah Polaski competes at 2012
CrossFit Regionals
Former UC soccer player, Leah Polaski, Business '02, recently competed in the 2012 World CrossFit Games in LA with her team CrossFit Atlanta, which aired on ESPN3. Leah recently talked to us about how she got involved with CrossFit and her UC experience. 

How did you get started with CrossFit? How long have you been doing cross-fit?

I started CrossFit in May 2009. I moved to Atlanta from St. Louis a few months prior and was bored out of my mind with my fitness routine, which basically consisted of running and/or the elliptical and lifting weights using the machines at the Y. I had driven by my gym, CrossFit Atlanta, nearly every day since moving and I kept telling myself to Google it. I finally did and emailed to set up a trial session.

I went in and met with Dan MacDougald, "The Godfather" of CrossFit in Atlanta. Thinking I was in good shape (I mean, I had run marathons), he promptly informed me otherwise. After a 10-minute workout, consisting of pullups (using rubber bands as assistance), push-ups (from my knees) and squats (apparently I'd never squatted properly in my life), I was exhausted, sore and absolutely HOOKED!

How did your team do in your recent competition at the World CrossFit games? What was it like to compete at this level?

This was actually my third time competing at the CrossFit Games (the world championship of CrossFit). I competed with the CrossFit Atlanta team in 2010, as an individual in 2011, finishing 30th and again with the CrossFit Atlanta team this year, finishing 10th!

Polaski competing
Competing at the Home Depot Center is such an amazing experience with equal parts fun agony, nervousness and excitement. The growth of the sport can easily be seen in the growth of the Games. It's gone from its first year, 2007, where it was held on a farm in Aromas, CA with the only prerequisite to compete being to show up, to 2012 where the top 50 men, women and teams that competed qualified out of 55,000 athletes. Not to mention, the Games were held at a sold out Home Depot Center, broadcast live on ESPN3 and will be re-broadcast on ESPN later this year.

If someone wants to start CrossFit what advice would you give them?

I would say give it a try! Most gyms offer some sort of free trial session so you can see if CrossFit is right for you.

Each box (CrossFit lingo for gym) is independently owned and operated, and this can be a good and bad thing. Good, in that each has its own vibe, offers its own programming and coaching and most importantly, community.

Bad in that, like any program, there are some bad apples out there. Do your research. Be educated. Visit a few gyms. Quiz the coaches on their fitness background, philosophies and experience. Get referrals, and most importantly, find a gym you feel comfortable in and one where you'll stick around!

Polaski competing
Crossfit gyms are unlike any other gym I've been to. Members tend to become more like close friends or even family. In fact, I've gotten my brother, step-brother and step-sister all CrossFitting!

How did your soccer career at UC help prepare you for cross-fit?

Playing, and more so training for, soccer made me mentally tough, which is very important in CrossFit. There's no denying it, the workouts are hard! In fact, as a competitive CrossFitter, my workouts and training now are actually harder than any soccer game I've ever played. I always say I WISH I did CrossFit when I was playing at UC! But being able to push myself even when my mind and body are saying to stop is a huge attribute, as is the discipline and drive I learned while playing.

What is your favorite UC memory?

That's an easy one! Beating Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament my senior year!!! It still gives me chills.

Why are you Proudly Cincinnati?

I wouldn't be who I am today without my time at UC. I made some of my best friends playing soccer and definitely have some of my best memories from those days!

Most of my family still lives in Cincinnati, and I love to come back to see all the changes taking place on and off campus. It's awesome to see UC, and all of Cincinnati, continuing to grow and improve for future students to enjoy.