For many Taylor students, the pick-a-date is a tradition marked by laughter, fun and often a little nervousness.
Each year, Personnel Assistants (PAs) are tasked with creating new ideas and planning activities that will appeal to diverse groups of students. However, the reality of a global pandemic has disrupted plans that were once thought practical and uncomplicated.
Sophomore PAs Emily Kimball and Lydia May worked together this semester to navigate the difficulties of pandemic pick-a-dates. Both admitted that the inevitable safety considerations introduced by COVID-19 were frustrating to them and their wings.
“Honestly, at the beginning, it felt really hopeless,” May said. “You had all of these pick-a-dates that people wanted to go on that you kind of had to shut down.”
May also noted that event planning in the middle of a pandemic included new and challenging considerations.
“Even just the little things that you don’t even think about, like who can ride in the same car, is a lot more complicated,” she explained. “There’s a lot of details that go unseen.”
One of Kimball’s and May’s biggest coordinated events is the broomball pick-a-date, which looked quite different this year. Normally, Third English heads to an ice rink, decked out in elaborate costumes, to engage in a game of broomball with their dates. However, travelling to a large city like Indianapolis or Fort Wayne to do so wasn’t within PeRT guidelines.
This year, Kimball and May, along with the third PA on Third English, sophomore Abigail Herrington, decided to collaborate on a COVID-safe broomball event.
To keep the tradition alive, they moved the pick-a-date to a large field at a church.
“That was a big change for broomball, but we knew our floor wanted to do it, we wanted to do it, we just had to switch up what the usual is,” Kimball said.
May was pleased with the way the pick-a-date turned out, despite the necessary changes and restrictions.
“I think we definitely made it fun,” she said. “I think there was a point of something like, either we don’t have this, or we have to get really creative with it.”
For Kimball, being a PA for the first time in such an unprecedented season was filled with unique blessings and frustrations.
“You just dream about all of these things you want to do, or all of these ideas, and it was just frustrating that, one, we got sent home, and COVID even ruined the future,” Kimball said.
However, Kimball also expressed that these frustrations have been accompanied by blessings, thanks to her wing.
“The support I get from my wing is unparalleled,” she said. “It feels really hard sometimes, but when they say thank you, it means the world.”
May was deeply grateful for the unique privilege of leading her peers in such a difficult time.
“It’s been both frustrating and really heartwarming that I get to love these girls in a time like no other,” she said. “I will always be their COVID PA, which is something I hold dear to my heart.”