PURPLE PRIDE

WCU’s student body president is counting on Catamount
student-athletes to keep him out of black and gold

By RANDALL HOLCOMBE

Take a look into the closet of Tony “T.J.” Eaves, WCU’s Student Government Association president, and you will find no black and gold clothing. Eaves said he’s feeling confident his wardrobe will continue to be void of any Appalachian State University colors next spring when the Power of Purple Challenge has concluded. He’s depending on WCU student-athletes to assert their overall athletic dominance against teams from Boone.

The idea for the challenge was born over the summer, when Eaves attended a meeting of University of North Carolina system student government presidents in Chapel Hill. Eaves said the ASU student president was talking about that school’s success against WCU in football and implied that ASU athletes are more “athletically gifted” than Catamounts. “I gladly explained that she was mistaken, and that night I decided I would challenge Appalachian’s student body president to a high-stakes bet,” Eaves said.

The Power of Purple Challenge is this: A record will be kept of which university sports team wins in head-to-head matchups, with all sports weighed equally. Next spring, after the baseball teams have finished their seasons, the final tally will be revealed. “The losing president will travel to the winning president’s school, where that person will be fitted in the winning school’s spirit gear and will be photographed with the winning school’s mascot,” Eaves said. “The pictures can be used as promotional material, and the losing president must make that picture his or her Facebook profile picture for a week. After returning to his or her home campus, the losing president must wear the winning school’s spirit gear for a week.”

Eaves, a senior from Hamlet, said he’s always loved sports, but as a native of eastern North Carolina, didn’t become a Catamount fan until he enrolled in Cullowhee in the fall of 2008. “My first semester, I had class with quarterback Zack Jaynes ’11,” he said. “We became friends in class, and I had no clue that he was the quarterback until the first home football game and I heard them announce his name. I realized that the players on the field were my classmates and my friends. That’s when I really started pulling for WCU athletics. Those were my peers, and I wanted to support them in any way I could.”

A committee chaired by Shawna Young, director of outreach and assessment for WCU’s Division of Student Affairs, has formed on campus to publicize and help promote Eaves’ challenge through increasing attendance at athletic events and boosting support for all university programs. “We want to make sure everyone in the WCU community is aware of T.J.’s challenge and the impressive leadership and commitment to WCU that he’s demonstrating,” Young said. “T.J. is a Catamount through and through, and we know this will be a big boost for school spirit and tradition.”

The challenge will begin Wednesday, Oct. 12, when the women’s volleyball teams compete in Boone. Eaves is asking all Catamount fans to support his challenge by “believing in the power of purple with me,” wearing their Catamount gear often, and supporting WCU athletics teams as much as possible. “Fans can even make their own similar bets with people they know who support ASU,” he said. “I think every win over App should be celebrated.”