True Blue Fans Descend on Campus

On November 6, the Tigers face Tennessee at the Liberty Bowl, and one group wants to get fans on campus, hearts pumping and pulses racing before the stadium gates ever open.

The University of Memphis Young Alumni Committee will host its 4th annual True Blue 5K at the University of Memphis on Friday, November 5. The shotgun start is at 7p.m., but race director Jamie Russell (BBA, ’02) says runners can expect true blue fun before and after the race.

“Runners can look forward to a big pep rally. Cheerleaders and the band will be there, and possibly some Tiger celebrity alumni,” Russell says.

In 2005, the Alumni Association launched the Young Alumni Committee to represent graduates who are in what many consider the ‘struggling college student… once (or twice) removed’ category, graduates 35 years old and younger who want to remain connected to the U of M community, but might not be able to participate or contribute in ways older alumni can. “Our goal is to get people on campus, get young alum engaged, students engaged – keep people involved with the University.”

The efforts of the Committee to get more young graduates involved in keeping up University traditions have not gone unnoticed. The Alumni Association named the Young Alumni Committee the 2009-2010 Alumni Committee of the Year last year. The Committee received the Eye of the Tiger Award at the ECU football game.

The Committee hosts events throughout the year for young graduates, but the True Blue 5K is its signature event. “We pre-game, we host watch parties, we’ve had speaker series and prominent alumni to speak in the past, but our bread and butter is the 5k.”

Proceeds from the race support the Young Alumni Committee’s events and fund the Young Alumni Legacy Scholarship, a new scholarship the Committee created for U of M graduate students. Committee members will recognize 2010 Legacy Scholarship recipients, Alex Shipman (BA ’07) and Kathryn Murphy (BBA ’09), at the race.

Though the race is the main event, Russell says runners, walkers, and anyone who bleeds Memphis blue is welcome. He says about 200 runners and walkers participated in the first race in 2007, and participant numbers grow every year. “It’s on the rise. Our second year we had about 350, and this year we’re expecting around 500.”

He says the festivities don’t end when participants reach the finish line.  Awards, special gifts, and music will follow the race. “We’ll have food and photo ops. We’re just hoping to have one big party around the UC after the race.”

By Brandi Hunter, Photo Courtesy of the University of Memphis.

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