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OPP Captain Talks Slides of Strength

After massaging dancers until our hands were sore, we had a few questions about the magic behind the slip-and-slide brought to the THON floor throughout the weekend. While still covered in baby powder, OPP captain Jillian Mitsch offered to enlighten us.

OS: In your own words, what is Slides of Strength?
Jillian: Slides of Strength is a few times during the weekend, the dancers get a little ten-second massage, get their feet off of the ground and get to have a slip-and-slide experience.

OS: How many dancers typically participate in each ‘slide’?
Jillian: It varies each time. Towards the end of the weekend, I would say more because their feet hurt a bit more and they’re willing to get all baby powdered to get their feet off of the ground for a little bit.

OS: How much baby powder do you use?
Jillian: We use A LOT. We have crates and crates in OPP storage. We go through approximately 10 bottles per slide.

OS: Where do you get all of the baby powder?
Jillian: A lot of it is donated, and what we can’t get donated we buy with our funds that OPP raises throughout the year.

OS: How difficult is it to prepare for this on the floor? How many people are involved?
Jillian: One of our captains’ sole job is to facilitate Slides of Strength. She prepares all year for this part of the weekend. We also have at least 2 OPP committees on each Slides of Strength, who carry the mats out, line the sides and massage the dancers.

OS: Describe the different types of ‘sliders’ that you’ve seen during your time as an OPP captain.
Jillian: We have the very courageous ones who will run the whole way down and slide all the way to the end. We have the occasional tripping which ends pretty quickly. And finally, we have the traditionalists, who just slide on down.

OS: Why did you choose OPP?
Jillian: I’ve been on OPP since sophomore year and fell in love with it. You get to see the beginning, the end and everything in between. It’s unlike any other committee; I love it.

OS: Why do you THON?
Jillian: So many reasons. I THON so that every kid can have this amazing experience. Once a year, we get to put smiles on their faces during the difficult time that they are going through. We’re doing everything we can to make them happy.

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About the Author

Alex Calderaro

Alex Calderaro is a junior majoring in Supply Chain Management from Central Jersey. As a first generation Penn Stater, she has found a home here in several places, including her sorority, and, of course, Onward State. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @alexcalderaro.

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