Greek Sing: 60 years of song and dance

In 2001, former Sigma Chi member Dan Procopio took the stage with only five other people, singing and dancing to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits. Sigma Tau Gamma men belted out the melodies of ABBA while wearing fruit on their heads.

Procopio, manager of Kilcawley Center operations, said this is only one of the many experiences from his time participating in Greek Sing that he will remember for years to come.

This year, Youngstown State University’s 60th annual Greek Sing competition will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. in Stambaugh

Auditorium, and it will showcase some of popular culture’s greatest hits.

Michael Koziorynsky, co-chairman of Greek Sing and member of Alpha Phi Delta, has been a part of Greek life since 2008 and has been involved in every Greek Sing since.

He said it is one of the longest-running traditions at YSU, second only to football, and at least 1,500 people are expected to attend this year.

“You’re going to see a lot of popular artists in groups, so, when you go, you’ll know a lot of the music,” Koziorynsky said. “I would expect with some of the names that groups are doing, this show is going to be pretty exciting; it’s going to be pretty high energy.”

Greek life participates in fundraisers year-round to prepare for the event, which ultimately costs thousands of dollars.

Sixty years after its start, Koziorynsky said the only real difference he sees is the formality of the competition.

“Music then and music now adds a whole different perspective to it. And I know back then, they weren’t as free with certain costumes and maybe certain dance moves,” he said.

Procopio said the lack of tools available to those involved in Greek Sing 60 years ago made it more serious.

“I think, originally, it was more of a competition. It was meant to be more of, ‘Who could musically be more in the forefront?’” Procopio said. “Back then, they didn’t have CDs; there were things like big bands and trumpets.”

Although Procopio said the groups are serious about their involvement, the competition is more camaraderie-based now.

Koziorynsky credits Greek Sing’s recent success to the efforts made by retired and current coordinators of programs and marketing at YSU: Greg Gulas and Carrie Anderson, respectively.

Gulas was involved in planning the competition for nearly 14 years, and Anderson has been involved with Greek life as an Alpha Xi Delta member and faculty adviser since 2000.

“They took Greek Sing from something great to something fantastic,” Koziorynsky said. “And now it’s at Stambaugh Auditorium, a beautiful venue, and they kind of challenged us to raise the stakes with our venue so that we perform harder and get more involved.”

Anderson said that although other venues were available to the group in the past, Stambaugh Auditorium brought it all together with the lighting, the sound and the stage.

She said the atmosphere motivates the students.

“It’s pretty neat what they come up with — from their costumes, right down to the songs that they sing and how they perform on stage,” Anderson said.

Anderson said it is common for the men in the competition to focus more on comedy, while the women try to perfect the performance in terms of singing and the sound.

The show, she said, has continually evolved each year. The props, costumes and creative ideas always seem to kick it up a notch.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years, however, is the competitive nature of the preparation.

“At this point, they’re afraid that other chapters are watching them practice,” Anderson said.

Koziorynsky said he felt that people didn’t take the event seriously when he started, but, after a while, the energy picked up.

Anderson said she sees the energy backstage right before the show starts, and it makes her work with the students absolutely worth it.

“It’s been a really great experience for me; a lot of times it’s fun for me to watch them shine and watch for their moment, as a student, to have that memorable experience that they’ll remember throughout their collegiate career and on,” Anderson said.

Procopio said his experiences with Greek Sing have been nothing but fantastic. He said it is a great opportunity to bring students and the community together to demonstrate what Greek life stands for.

Greek life gains a sense of accomplishment from the event, Koziorynsky said.

“With all of the negative stereotypes that happen with Greek life, it’s things like this that are what Greek life is truly about,” Koziorynsky said. “Sixty years of consecutive hard work. Things like this for Greek life are where our pride lies.”