It was a gorgeous October day of my junior year of high school. I got home from school and decided it was time to start looking through the two books I had on colleges. I knew of Binghamton and how it was a great public school but didn’t really know much else. I flipped through one of the books until I got to the few pages on Binghamton.
I saw under special events that every October there was an annual sorority/fraternity bodybuilding event sponsored by the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi. Destiny? I was intrigued! It was called Greek God.
A few paragraphs down I saw that the tuition per year was a little less than $10k. They also had a great business school. The choice became so clear right then and there.
Spend in 1 year what my entire Binghamton education would cost elsewhere or go to Binghamton. In my mind, I was going to Binghamton.
My senior year, I applied to the business school early admission…
Binghamton it was.
Fast forward 1 year to the beginning of my first semester freshman year of college. I remember going into one of the two huge gyms and seeing the entire place packed out on that Saturday evening. The music was bumping. The bleachers from floor to ceiling were all pulled out. What looked like at least 8 basketball courts in between all the bleachers, were covered with paper to protect the floor from the hundreds of folding seats on top of it. There was a huge stage with balloons all around it. The fraternities were going nuts and the sorority girls were screaming.
And for some reason, I was nervous. Even though I wasn’t in a fraternity (pledging didn’t start until the second semester) I knew I was going to do this one day. Posing in front of 3000+ fraternity/sorority members in my underwear seemed very intimidating.
I had time though. People only do it once in their college career. I figured I’d do it either my junior or senior year.
Fast forward 11 months and 1 week. I pledged the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) and my pledge brothers and I were all so excited to reap the benefits of actually being in the fraternity, not servicing it as a pledge! In Binghamton, most students live on campus for 2 years and off for 2. My friends and I had worked it out so we were near each other. It was going to be awesome.
An older frat brother was set to do it for us. He had been training hard all summer long and was looking real good. In what could’ve been a made for TV movie, he broke his arm.
Not only are shirtless line ups uncomfortable while you pledge but for someone who is as obsessed with their health and fitness as I am – torture ensued. Being forced to eat mayo and drink oil were common punishments. Of course, it was all in good fun though. Most of it was brought on by me anyway because I can be a wise ass.
So, I got the call. “Gilbert, you’re doing Greek God. You don’t have a choice.”
Great! I had 3 weeks to prepare for what every other contestant had been preparing months and months for. And unfortunately, the Greek God competition is only 1/3 body building. There is a toga skit where the contestant must be brought out on a chariot (that was to be built by the fraternity – to demonstrate our team work – ha!) and then a formal wear skit. In essence, it was a talent competition with only 1/3 of it being a 60 second pose down.
Three problems: My fraternity didn’t really care about Greek God, in terms of helping me build the sets and the chariot. And I didn’t really care all that much about the other parts of the competition.
And I lived in the dorms which meant I didn’t have access to a kitchen. I had to rely on dining hall food which was barely edible. For 3 full weeks, my entire hall had to endure my (illegal) usage of the good ol’ faithful George Foreman grill while I stunk up the floor.
As health and fitness has been my passion since I was in 4th grade, I was lucky in that I was in good shape. But I had to take my body to the next level in 3 weeks. Thankfully, I was born for this. (Although later I realized I enjoyed the training way more than I did the actual competition.)
Other fraternities took Greek God extremely (and way too) seriously. My favorite part of doing Greek God my sophomore year was probably waking up early on the Saturday of Greek God to build my chariot (that’s what you’re looking at above. It’s a boxing ring. And I was Rocky!) with one or two other helpful brothers. Of course, other fraternities had theirs built for months.
Don’t get me wrong. They were there to support me like crazy during the competition. While other fraternities screamed their representative’s name is Greek God, it was awesome to hear my friends scream mine.
Hearing ”Gil is Greek God” being yelled with all of their hearts as I was getting ready for my pose down back stage was a feeling and an experience I’ll never forget…
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