The lights dropped and the Chicago Bulls intro music began to bump out of the auditorium speakers. Running up to the stage wasn’t Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen or even Dennis Rodman, but National Director and CDO Brian Lee, who grabbed the mic to kick off National Officer Training.
As the staff emerged from backstage and met Brian with hugs and hand pounds, the brothers in the audience applauded and screamed for their older brothers on staff, giving them a warm welcome for the weekend-long retreat. The staff exited the stage, and Brian introduced the chapters from Alpha to Alpha Kappa. Each stood up when called on, giving a cheer and shout for their university.
One image stood out during the chapter introductions as I watched from the sound booth. As Brian introduced the Arkansas Chapter, the officers, clad in cut-off flannel shirts, jorts and temporary tattoos, ran around like wild razorbacks in their row of seats and out into the aisles, screaming all the while. As ridiculous as it was, the explosion of energy and excitement from the Xi Chapter helped set the tone for the weekend.
As the staff recapped the weekend in a sleep-deprived stupor on Monday morning, we kept coming back to the energy that marked the retreat. The officers from each of the 30 chapters brought a fervor with them from their campuses. Each session was marked by a tangible enthusiasm that came straight from the officers.
The staff puts in hours on top of hours to prepare for National Officer Training. We’ve already started working on next year’s event. This year, we revamped the stage to add further legitimacy to the event by building wooden structures, acquiring lights and curtains and borrowing plywood BYX letters from the UNT Chapter. Each staff member studied their materials diligently in preparation for the sessions they would be teaching and leading. Thursday staff meetings were spent combing through flight itineraries to construct efficient shuttle schedules around eight different chapters and as many different flights.
But none of that preparation would have counted for anything if the officers didn’t bring the energy from the moment they set foot on Camp Copass Friday night to their premature departure on Sunday morning. There was nothing we could do to prepare for that, and there was nothing we could do to force it. The success of the event ultimately hinged on 180 college men from 30 different campuses rather than the handful of staff members that had diligently devoted themselves to the event for the past year. And those 180 brothers came through.
Each year, we learn how to do BYX better than the previous year, and National Officer Training is a prime example of that. Each year seems to be better than the previous. Despite all the bells and whistles we added this year, one thing was abundantly clear: the men make the event.
From the National Staff to the men who made this an incredible weekend: Thank you.
Your work is just getting started. Our challenge to you is to bottle up that energy and enthusiasm and add to it the insights into fraternity vision and leadership you learned at National Officer Training and distribute it to the other 2200 men that could not be in the room. In the same way that National Officer Training hinged not on the staff but on the officers, your success as a leader hinges as much on your men as on your officer team.
Win the men, win the year. Let’s make 2014 another historic one for Beta Upsilon Chi.