Derby Days makes a comeback

The Sigma Chi fraternity at Youngstown State University was almost closed eight years ago, due to membership problems. As a result, the brothers were forced to put their longstanding philanthropy week, Derby Days, on hold.

Derby Days, a tradition for Sigma Chi fraternities nationwide, is a weeklong series of competitions among sororities that combine civic involvement with fun and games.

This year, the brothers of Sigma Chi were excited to bring back the tradition. The Huntsman Cancer Institute will receive 40 percent of the proceeds.

The remaining funds will be split 2-to-1 between the first- and second-place sororities.

At the time of publication, Sigma Chi was still counting the money.

The brothers will announce the winning sororities next week.

From Nov. 4 to 8, the YSU chapter hosted a cook-off, an eating contest, a poker tournament, a derby dancing session and a brother auction, where students could bid on a brother to do odd jobs for them during a three-hour period.

Justin Haught, a senior brother, said he wanted to see the tradition return. He hopes they built a good platform for returning brothers to build on next year.

“I’m not disappointed at all, given the fact that we built this from scratch,” Haught said. “We didn’t have other brothers to ask about it.”

Senior brother Jimmy Mszanski said the cook-off was one of his favorite events.

“We gave the sororities different foods, and they had to make a dessert based off of those and were judged on look and taste,” Mszanski said.

Lori Miller, senior member of Alpha Xi Delta, said her team’s resources included cinnamon, sugar, asparagus, pork and tortillas.

“We had to make a dessert with really no dessert foods,” Miller said. “I didn’t taste the finished product, but they ate it and they loved it.” 

Miller was the “derby darling” for Alpha Xi Delta, meaning that she spearheaded her sorority to victory.

“It was my job to keep everyone motivated to raise money,” Miller said.

She assisted her team in the cook-off and helped keep up team morale.

“I hope next year, Derby Days gets bigger and more people participate — even non-Greeks,” Miller said.

Junior brother Corey Sharp said he is already anticipating next year’s Derby Days. He helped organize some of this year’s events.

“This was the trial-and-error run,” he said. “Now that I’ve done it once, I think next year we will be more successful.”

He said he was especially glad that the brother auction raised $2,200 of the $5,000 goal.

“I hope people are ready for next year because we’re bringing it back, and it’s going to be better,” Sharp said.