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Puttin’ in Work: 90 Minutes in the Shoes of a Morale Captain

Saturday afternoon, at about the half way point of THON, I had the opportunity to spend about 90 minutes with Morale Captain Dylan Miller. Needless to say; he was kinda busy.

Miller arrived at the Bryce Jordan Center around 8 a.m. on Friday morning, and thus far he has had just one four-hour break to rest. I tagged along as he performed his typical duties to see what a Morale Captain actually does when they aren’t on stage, leading the BJC in the line dance.

The junior Sociology major, has been heavily involved in THON for each of his three years at Penn State.  He was a dancer as a freshman and served as the campus overall for Penn State Berks during his sophomore year; making him the perfect candidate for Morale Captain.

The “Fresh Princes of Dyl Air”, Miller’s commitee, consists of 31 members, and the moralers have various shifts–both with their dancer and in the dancer storage room. Both responsibilities are in an effort to do what Miller says is the primary concern of moralers: keeping the dancers safe.  But what does that mean? Here’s a timeline of what exactly Dylan Miller was up to for a short interval at THON:

5:40 p.m.: Minutes after performing a line dance, Dylan met me at the check-ins and we proceeded onto the floor.

5:45: I’ve heard Dylan say the phrase, “Let me know if you need anything”–emphasizing anything each time–to seven dancers.

5:49: I already lost track of how many dancers he has spoken to and comforted. It’s not even been ten minutes.

5:53: Dylan gives one dancer, who was looking pretty exhausted at the time, a big hug followed by some words of encouragement.

5:59: We’ve made our way completely around the BJC by now, stopping every couple of feet–practically whenever Dylan sees a dancer.

6:05: A fellow Morale Captain explains to Dylan that one dancer is hitting a really rough-patch and needs help. Dylan takes her outside, along with several of her friends to get some fresh air. I wait inside.

6:29: While Dylan tends to the dancer in need, Tyler makes several new friends. [Side-note: THON may be the single most amazing event I’ll ever be a part of.]

6:30: After almost 25 minutes of one-on-one time with the dancer, Dylan arrives back explaining that she is doing much better. “We walked her in a few circles and stretched her,” said Miller. “I tried to remind her why she is really here.”

6:36: More checking in on dancers. It’s now clear to me that he makes a point to say hello to every dancer he sees.

6:39: He has to attend a quick “Mic Meeting,” which he explained is a communications meeting where they check that the headsets are working properly for the Captains while taking care of any other issues.

6:46: Meeting adjourned. After hearing “Morale Captains to the stage” moments later, Dylan sprints from the other end of the BJC floor in order to make it to the stage on time.

6:51: We wrap things up with a few photos and questions while he prepares for his committee’s upcoming shift.

7:00: Committee meeting.

7:05: His committee members disperse to the floor to find their dancers as the final night of THON moves forward.

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