Sapling Spotlight

Feb. 25, 2010, 12:58 a.m.

Robbie Zimbroff

From sleeping in his covered wagon-turned-home in White Plaza to scarfing down frankfurters in an eating contest with competitive eater Joey Chestnut, Robbie Zimbroff ’12 has definitely made his Tree candidacy known in a major way.

“I wanted to make a lot of my Tree process pretty visible and interactive,” said Zimbroff, a current band member who also interrupted an IHUM lecture to expose his tree-shaped chest hair. “Last year, I didn’t see or even know about many of the stunts—they sort of happened when they happened and the people who needed to see them saw them. But I think the important part is the student body. I wanted to up the ante.”

According to the sophomore, this Tree campaign has been held together by one common theme: America.

“When I was planning to make a bid to be Tree, I was trying to think of an expression of myself—to show who I am, to show my creativity, to show my style and how I roll,” he said. “And if there were one word to sum up Robbie Zimbroff, that word is ‘America.’”

When discussing what inspired him to run for Tree, Zimbroff quoted a personal hero, professional bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman: “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody want to lift no heavy-ass weight.”

Zimbroff wants to lift that weight.

Rachel Lindee

For Rachel Lindee ’12—commonly referred to this week as “LindTree”—aspirations of being the Stanford Tree began very early in life.

“I’ve always been a huge Stanford fan, literally ever since I was born because my dad went here,” she explained. “So from going to sporting events from a young age and just having that Stanford spirit, a part of me has always thought it would be awesome to be the Tree.”

Lindee, a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, a Gaieties actor (and next year’s producer) and a member of Stanford Improvisors (SIMPS), is the only female candidate among this year’s bunch.

“The fact of me being a girl didn’t really click in my mind as an issue or anything,” she said. “But then I realized that it really is kind of a cool thing for the female population, or really anyone on campus, to see that you can set your mind to whatever your dreams are.”

If chosen, Lindee hopes to make the Tree a bigger personality on campus, outside of the costume and beyond the athletic arenas.

“Yeah, as Stanford Tree you’re mostly under a Tree costume,” Lindee said. “But I feel like it’s still important to be an important figure on campus that people actually like and want to get to know. And that is something that I would definitely aspire to do.”

Ben Cortes

Ben Cortes ’11, a current drummer in the Band, is no stranger to Tree Week—he not only ran for the position last year, but has several friends who have served as the Band mascot.

“Seeing them be able to be Tree just made me realize that it is a pretty kick-ass position to be in,” he said. “That’s the closest thing campus has to just straight up rock star.”

And it is his “rock star” attitude that Cortes feels makes him most qualified to be Tree.

“I just try to keep a general awareness of bad-assitude,” he said. “I’ve been studying it for a while in its various forms, observing it in film and music—I consider myself a minor authority on the subject. As such, I would like to be able to place myself in a position where I can exert some authority in the much-contested field of bad-assitude.”

And what he deemed his best stunt, an “authentic bloody Mary,” displayed Cortes’ eccentricity as well, if not his taste for the grotesque.

“I drew a little bit of blood from myself and substituted that for tomato juice in the recipe of a Bloody Mary,” he explained. “And drank it. That was my tribute to Twilight.”

Kirk Erickson

“Scrumptrilescence” is what Kirk Erickson ’10 believes will make him the best Tree—in addition to his “dashing good looks and “relation to Brett Favre in four degrees.”

Erickson, a former Stanford baseball player and current Band member, recalls the moment in 1996 when he realized his calling to someday be Tree.

“When walking out of Big Game, I ran into some Cal students beating up the shells of one of the trees that they had stolen,” he said. “I climbed into it in the middle of the street, nine years old…and in that one minute I decided that this is what I was meant to do.”

Like the other candidates, Erickson has spent the week performing a variety of stunts, one of which he claimed was “listening to a Kenny G album for 24 straight hours.”

“I’ve been proving myself as a worthy candidate by performing stunts that would show how far I’m willing to go, sacrificing body, mind and soul,” he said.

And while Erickson feels strongly about his performance this week, he recognizes that what happens is now beyond his control.

“I mean the decision, it’s not really mine to make,” he said. “It really comes down to what the Tree gods decide. Or fate, or whatever you want to put it as.”

Chris Hadley

Chris Hadley ’10, also making his second bid, views the Tree as “the unofficial face of the University.”

“Stanford has the reputation of being very intellectual, very academic,” he explained. “The Tree is kind of just the opposite. He shows that we can have an incredible amount of fun—that we can be silly, that we can rock out and rage and do everything that’s not necessarily associated with us—while at the same time being really kind of smart.”

Hadley, a member of the track team and Sigma Nu, originally ran for Tree as a freshman and has “maintained that feeling of wanting to do it” since.

“I figured this is my last chance,” he said. “So I should go after it.”

When asked what distinguishes him from the other Tree candidates, Hadley was gracious toward his fellow competitors.

“I’m taller than all of them, I believe,” he laughed. “They’re all fantastic. I’m not one to toot my own horn.”

Nearing the end of his final Tree week campaign, Hadley is satisfied with his efforts.

“I feel like I’ve done pretty much everything I can to just put my best foot forward, to make a case about why I would be the best Tree,” he said. “But I’m going to be really relieved once this is over. I think I’m going to sleep for about a week.”

Login or create an account