Jennifer Kuechler can sum up her Illini highlight in one syllable.
“Any alum would tell you that singing their school’s alma mater before any sporting event evokes a strong sense of pride and excitement for the game forthcoming, but at U of I we had an extraordinary tradition to follow ‘Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue,’” the proud member of the Class of ’87 says from suburban Atlanta, where she’s the chief operating officer of a consulting firm.
“I feel fortunate to have been part of the 81-year tradition of watching the Chief dance after we sang our alma mater song at both football and basketball games. There was nothing that got the crowd more pumped up than standing, clapping and yelling with pride as the Chief danced. I will never forget the excitement as we all continuously yelled ‘CHIEF’ as he walked off the field or the floor.
“I had the added fortune of meeting two of them personally as they dated two of my sorority sisters from Chi Omega. So, not only did I enjoy the excitement of the performance during the sporting events on campus, but also the opportunity to have met this prestigious role model at UIUC personally.
“To complement this experience, two of my Chi-O roommates were cheerleaders for several years, allowing me the unique perspective of this tradition, which truly enhanced my college experience.
“Even more fulfilling is the fact that my daughter completed her first year at the UI College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2018.
“The Illini legacy continues.”