By Angelina Burkholder
Friday mornings always begin a little earlier than usual. Sip a little longer at the drinking fountain. Pick a good chapel seat and sing a little louder during worship. Drink a Monster energy drink. Clear the throat. A successful Friday yell is all about good preparation.
But this morning, for the first time in three years, senior Jeff Yoder slept in a little longer and forgot his extra glass of water. His Monster stayed in the refrigerator. An hour ago, the ears of his friends didn't bleed during worship and when the student body rose to leave, his voice remained silent.
"A small part of me is going to live on through the tradition, even though I am graduating," Yoder said. "Starting this week, people won't necessarily think of me as the Friday guy. It'll be someone else. But that's still a small piece of my college memory that I will carry with me and never forget."
Last night, Yoder gathered Third West Wengatz for a comedic 33-slide presentation followed by a serious speech to begin the ceremonial passing of the Friday shirt. At the stroke of midnight, Yoder completed his final task as the Friday guy and passed down the beloved shirt to his chosen recipient. Freshman Robbie Brandkamp is now the next great legend of WWIII, taking his place as the fifth holder of the revered title.
"I kind of made the decision back in February," Yoder said. "Robbie was at the top of the leaderboard back in February and he didn't lose that spot."
Brandkamp only gave himself a 7.4 out of 10 for being most likely to receive the shirt, speculating that Jordan Wright would become the next Friday guy. However, three of his competitors unknowingly caught Yoder's vision and voted Brandkamp as the most likely candidate.
"I don't really yell a lot unless I'm playing Mario Kart," Brandkamp said. "But when I have the opportunity to yell and be really loud, I just find so much joy in doing that. When it's socially acceptable, that's just an added bonus."
In the process of choosing who would carry on the tradition, Yoder made a deliberate effort to build relationships with each freshman on the wing. Through those relationships, he was able to pick out the one person who bleeds WWIII the most. The Friday guy may not always be the loudest or the craziest on the wing. Rather, he must possess the ability to care for others much more than he cares for himself.
"Robbie is an incredible guy," Yoder said. "He is a guy who, especially when he is older, will change people's lives on the wing because of his friendliness and approachability. I think he makes a great Friday guy because of how cheerful he is."
This morning Brandkamp completed his first chapel yell as the new Friday guy. The rules remain simple. Attend Friday chapel as often as possible, only hand wash the shirt and spread cheer to everyone, everywhere on campus.
"Don't be nervous," Yoder advised future Friday guys. "Don't take it for granted. Not everyone has the opportunity to spread cheer through an entire campus every week, week after week."
(Thumbnail photograph by Angelina Burkholder)