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Reno/Sacramento wrap-up by Matt McGann '00

The latest from the West Coast.

I’m on the West Coast now, and things are great. First, I flew into Reno, and took a drive downtown:

I drove on to my meeting with the fantastic folks at the Davidson Institute and the new Davidson Academy. The Davidson Institute offers many programs of interest to the kinds of students who would be thinking of MIT, including the Davidson Fellows Award for students under the age of 18 who have done significant work: an accomplishment that experts in the field recognize as significant and has the potential to make a positive contribution to society; and GT-Cybersource, a database of resources for gifted students. The Institute offers many programs, and services, you should definitely check them out. They’re doing wonderful things for education in this country.

While I was in Reno, I also saw the Great Reno Balloon Race, which includes lots of beautiful hot air ballons. There was even a beaver named Bud E. Beaver (TIM the Beaver’s cousin?).

After Reno, I was off to Sacramento, where I hosted a Central Meeting for folks from the Central Valley, Northern Nevada, and other areas around Sacramento. The meeting had a record sized crowd for Sacramento, so I had to put our Educational Counselors (alumni volunteers and interviewers) to work setting up chairs for this large crowd!

During the meeting, I learned (the hard way) how not to pronounce “Nevada” (hint: it’s not Ne-vah-dah). I’m sorry about that, Nevadans!

Following the meeting, to thank the ECs for their help, we went out to dinner together.


From left to right: Ram (Parent ’10), David (Bo) Chi, Maud Naroll, Kristie Tappan, Dahlia Eng, Dr. Al Czerwinski, and David Feldman.

If you live in Sacramento or Northen Nevada, one of these kind folks could be your interviewer!

After the meeting (and before the dinner), a young lady and her father asked me a series of questions; I’ll post them & the answers here, for the record, since these are fairly common questions. They asked, does MIT have a football team? Is there a football stadium? Do you have cheerleaders? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

Does MIT have a football team?

Yes, we do. I’ve seen photographs of the MIT football team from 100 years ago, and the modern team has been in existance for nearly 30 years, compiling a losing (but not awful) record over that time. Meanwhile, members of the MIT Varsity Football Team have gone on to such accolades as Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, etc. MIT lost its home opener this weekend, but I know the team is hopeful for the season.

Is there a football stadium?

Yes, and it’s an interesting story: the stadium is Steinbrenner Stadium, named for Henry G. Steinbrenner ’27. Yes, that Steinbrenner: Henry is best known as the father of George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees. Henry studied Ocean Engineering at MIT and became a prominent shipping executive as President of Kinsman Transit Company. Outside the classroom, he was a national champion hurdler and competed in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

Do you have cheerleaders?

This, I guess, is a pretty common question. Here’s what Mollie ’06 (an MIT cheerleader) had to say about it:

I’ve had to get used to people saying in disbelief, “Wow, I didn’t even know MIT had cheerleaders! Do you cheer for the chess team?” I’ve also had to perfect the sort of fake smile and forced giggle that people seem to expect when they say such breathtakingly witty things. Why is it funny that someone could be smart and sexy at the same time? I mean, you can be short and blonde at the same time. You can be nearsighted and blue-eyed at the same time. You can also be an MIT student and be perfectly outwardly normal at the same time — although you don’t have to be. What makes that so difficult to process? People are complex. MIT students are complex. This is a fact of life.

So, yes, there is an MIT Cheerleading Squad, and yes, they cheer for our football team, in our football stadium. Here’s a picture of the Cheerleading team, thanks to Mollie:

In the interest of full disclosure, though, I should note that MIT is not one of those big football schools where thousands of fans come to the games and drink too much and then go do stupid things. But does that mean we don’t have school spirit? Oh no. We’ve got lots of school spirit, we just don’t show it in “traditional” ways like football, homecoming, pep rallies. But ask any MIT student/alum about the Brass Rat or hacks or whatever, and you’ll be talking to one excited MIT person. We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?

Next up: San Jose and Silicon Valley.

7 responses to “Reno/Sacramento wrap-up”

  1. nghi says:

    MATT! Will you stop by Palo Alto? I owe you so much more than lunch. I would love to hear an update from you.

  2. Hey Matt! My colleague here is a crew member for one of the balloons at the Reno race this weekend. He says, “Look at the Bud E. Beaver balloon — doesn’t it sort of look like Mr. Potato Head? That’s because originally it *WAS* a Mr. Potato Head, and the owner was asked by Hasbro not to use that image, so it morphed into Bud E. Beaver.” Learn something new every day, that’s *my* motto. grin

  3. Sylvia says:

    Aww, I live in Las Vegas. Too bad you didn’t visit here. Would you know of any interviewers available here by any chance? Also, about the incorrect pronunciation of Nevada, native Nevadans usually scorn and despise you for doing that. Pretty scary, I know smile

  4. Mollie says:

    Haha, that quote from me sounds so grouchy.

  5. I’m just going to chime in with my opinion on MIT athletics. First, they don’t generate a lot of hype. Not many people show up at events, but that doesn’t mean that sports are discouraged around here…it just usually follows from the fact that almost all MIT students have their schedules packed with classes and their own extracurriculars. Nonetheless I find that there is a great atmosphere for atletics around here. Additionally, it’s also nice since you don’t necessarily have to be a star to get on a team. I, for example, was OK at cross country in high school but had I gone to my 2nd choich UMichigan I would sure not have had a chance of making the team. I was able to squeak by and make the team at MIT though.

    I should clarify that although it’s a little bit easier to make the cross country team (and, I assume this applies to most/all teams here as compared to other universities), the team is still hardcore and very good. We definitely are not just a couple of goofy tech kids running as a joke.

    I hope that wasn’t too jumbled. But, basically, to cap it up, I’m saying that the advantage of MIT sports is that making the team is more reasonable for people who were good, but not necessarily the best, in high school and that the teams are still very serious and good.

  6. Jennifer says:

    This is a general question. Do you accept additional letters of recommendation from coaches or project advisors besides the 2 required ones?

  7. Josh Chan says:

    Hello Matt,

    I doubt you’d remember me from the vast crowd of faces, but I was one of those in attendence at the Sacramento meeting at Mira Loma High School. Just wanted to let you know that I learned lots of useful information, and I’m glad you came (and I went).

    -Josh Chan

    P.S. I’m the one that’ll get +3 bonus points since I helped set up some folding chairs smile