Squadron 17 tailgate featurest largest BBQ pit on Quad
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 00:09
Squadron 17 in the Corp of Cadets holds the biggest tailgate on the Quad each gameday. Four sophomores are chosen to cook the barbecue, but it takes parent contributions and teamwork within the outfit for the tradition to live on.
Being passed down from multiple classes has created a community within Squadron 17. Over three hundred people came to tailgate one game last year, including old military Ags and members of different campus organizations.
“Parents and family and [Squadron] 17 guys from past generations come because this is the biggest meeting of everyone that we have,” said junior Colter Kasper. “Last year when I was on the pit it was really funny because we would have military officers, colonels and generals walk by while I was up there flipping steaks and they would just say, ‘Oh hey, we’ve just come to check out the biggest barbecue pit on the Quad. Seventeen doing it right.’”
The barbecue pit used by the outfit is the largest on the Quad and takes four cooks to operate. The graduating class of 2008 donated the pit after making it from scratch in 2005.
To become part of the barbecue chain, cooks need to show both interest and skill. Colter described it as a cook off to see who could come up with the best meals and recipes.
“What’s kind of neat about 17 is that it’s a privilege … to be on the chain,” Colter said. “You start prepping for this thing a few days beforehand, but it’s really fun. I didn’t know if I would be too tired, but it was the most fun I had during 17 last year.”
The preparation for a tailgate this size requires people and time. The 17 Parent’s Association, led by Cordelia Kasper and established this year, helps the parents unite in an effort to support the outfit in anything from side dishes to monetary donations.
“The squadron itself does all the work,” said Teri Rodela, mother of Nick Ramirez, a sophomore on the barbecue chain. “They do the main meal and they fund it with donations from weekly tailgates. But the boys — I mean, the young men — do all the set up, bring all the chairs out, have the tents up; they do all the work.”
By the time Parents Weekend rolls around, Squadron 17 parents have had the chance to meet and befriend one another. This especially helps freshman parents learn about the Corps and their involvement from parents of upperclassmen.
“It makes their outfit feel more of a family,” Cordelia said. “All of us moms come in and try to meet the children of different class levels and get to know each other so that if the kids in the outfits need our support in any way they know to count on us moms. It’s also a time of fellowship and gives us an opportunity to hear about our boys’ week and what they’re involved in.”
This family-centered and alcohol-free event creates an environment unlike many other tailgates. Past, current and future Aggies can sit together in community just like a smaller version of the Aggie family.
“The social environment here is probably the best thing over the food,” said junior and former cook Hunter Howell. “We are real family based, so a lot of families actually come. The upper-classmen parents really mingle with the freshman parents [so] parents really know each other.”
The tailgate serves as one of the biggest sources of revenue for the outfit. Current, past and future Aggie involvement helps the outfit through its support. Even cooks from previous years continue to help, despite no longer cooking.
“I am kind of the advisor now,” Colter said. “They come to me with questions and it’s kind of a good gig. For instance, yesterday they had to purchase everything they used this morning and they actually borrowed my truck for the pit. They had a lot of questions as to what to buy. You’re passing it down to those guys but they still need to know what to do, you can’t just hand them the reigns. It’s pretty fun.”