While students and families attended IUPUI’s 15th annual Regatta on Sept. 30, executive board members of the Regatta completed a yearlong process to organize the university’s homecoming event.
Megan Goley, Ariana Hendricks, Connor Phutawon and Maya El Chal are part of the executive board who help organize the yearly event and spoke about their experiences building up to it.
Goley, the executive director, has been attending the Regatta since she was 12 years old.
“My older brother was a member of the executive board for Regatta when he went to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis,” Goley said. “I knew that when I went to college, I wanted to be a part of planning this amazing event and help to facilitate creating the same wonderful memories of the event that I have.”
Hendricks, the associate executive director of admistration, had friends within the Steering Committee, which prompted her to become part of the planning process.
“I had always wanted to be a part of Regatta and after having two friends on the committee, I was really interested in helping put together the event,” Hendricks said.
Phutawon, associate executive director of external affairs, and El Chal, associate executive director of internal affairs, both said their experience with Regatta began as first-year students.
Planning for the event begins as early as February for the executive board committee, according to Goley.
“Luckily for us, since the event has been going on for 15 years, there are some really great built-out planning materials and timelines that we are able to use and build off of,” Goley said.
According to El Chal, the process includes a timeline made for the committee members and involves paying attention to the smallest details.
“We look out for each other, making sure one person did not overlook something,” El Chal said.
Phutawon explained the planning process further.
“We are a collaborative group that works together in different divisions to make sure every aspect of Regatta is planned thoughtfully and thoroughly,” Phutawon said. “We have the help of our advisors and IUPUI staff that always help steer us in the right direction when we get lost.”
Being part of the executive board does not just mean organizing the annual Regatta, but also the events leading up to it during the week. Fall Regatta week is a series of events in partnership with IUPUI student organizations before the main event.
“With the help of many other campus organizations and sports, we are able to compile a list of events that’s fun for everyone. Sometimes things can get hectic with trying to balance our own big event, and all of the other events occurring the week of, but we make it work,” Phutawon said.
“We also try to highlight other events on campus that are going on, such as soccer games or volleyball games. Then, of course, we have our kickoff event where we try to remind everyone about Regatta and get out there and interact with more students,” Goley added.
With planning the Regatta each year, the board members also looked on how to improve in different areas for the event.
“One of my areas of improvement was making sure that Regatta is fun for everyone, including college students, kids, adults etc.” Phutawon said. “To make this a reality, I added new activities for all ages, picked festival rides anyone can enjoy and just tried to keep everyone in mind.”
El Chal agreed, saying that participation was a key area to improve on, whether it be racing participants, volunteers, and attendees.
In addition to the improvements, new activities were added to the event including the family frenzy, where families could participate in mini-games and the Regatta Passport, where attendees can check off items on the passport card to receive a free Regatta merch item.
“I was a big part in adding new events such as Family Frenzy, the Regatta Passport, and more, so I’m looking forward to seeing how these events do and hopefully see them continue each and every year,” said Phutawon.
As the organizers and volunteers worked closely behind the scenes on Saturday, this year’s Regatta Royalty members helped as ambassadors throughout the week. Hannah Romero de Gante, winner of this year’s Regatta Royalty and IUPUI senior, shared her favorite parts about the event.
“The dog contest is definitely my favorite,” Romero de Gante said. “Also, our student organization, Jagathon, is tabling, and my favorite part is being able to see all my friends up there.”
Melissa Fernandez, a senior and member of the Regatta Court, also spoke about Regatta and her thoughts on the team putting together the annual event.
“It’s our honor to represent them, because not everyone gets their picture taken, but they deserve to be the ones who do because they’re the ones who put this whole thing together,” Fernandez said.
Students and race participants also shared their thoughts on the event’s activities and importance, including MC Team 2, a co-ed team participating in the canoe race representing the Multicultural Center. One of its team members, Keaun Brown, shared his experience and how important the event was to him as an IUPUI student.
Due to COVID and personal reasons, Brown was not able to attend a lot of events on campus throughout his college career, but this year’s Regatta allowed him to be involved on campus.
“I missed half my school due to COVID, and everything was virtual, but I finally felt that today, I was really in college and that was really beautiful,” Brown said.
With another Regatta in the books, Phutawon expressed his enjoyment of being a part of this year’s Regatta and organization.
“I absolutely adore event planning and want to see the best for Regatta,” said Phutawon. “I love how the event is one of the only events of the year that brings the entire campus and Indianapolis community together for a day of fun.”
Daniel Guevara is a sophomore studying Journalism at the School of Liberal Arts. He is a campus writer for the Campus Citizen