Cardinal Council’s annual Athlete Date Auction took place on Feb. 16 and raised a total of $4,843 this year. Freshmen from 23 varsity athletic teams performed dance routines and auctioned off date events to audience members, and the proceeds were donated to Stanford Hillel’s Camp Kesem, a no-cost camp for children whose parents are affected by cancer.
According to Cardinal Council member McKayla Taaffe ’16, one of the event’s co-chairs, this year’s Date Auction was different than those in previous years because it involved much more collaboration between Cardinal Council, the representative body for student-athletes and Camp Kesem. Unlike past Date Auctions, this year’s event also included a raffle, which featured prizes such as gift cards to Jimmy V’s Sports Café and Chipotle as well as tables at Crêpe Night and Pizzeria.
“We’ve brought Camp Kesem in a lot more this year,” Taaffe said. “We also made a big push to try to get people who aren’t athletes to come as well, which is why we’re doing things like the raffle.”
In addition to performances from the freshman athletes, Date Auction included a guest performance from Alliance Streetdance, which was the only non-varsity team to perform at the event. According to Date Auction co-chair Katie Olsen ’15, Alliance’s performance, which concluded the event, was another part of Cardinal Council’s effort to make the event more accessible to the general student body.
Representatives from Cardinal Council and Camp Kesem MC’ed the event by serving as auctioneers for each of the varsity teams that participated. After the freshmen from each team performed a short dance routine, the MCs gathered bids for a date with the team to take place during spring quarter. Dates ranged from attending a Kesem-organized brunch or carnival with the team to more novel events such as off-roading in golf carts with the women’s golf team.
The total proceeds exceeded the $4,000 raised by last year’s Date Auction but fell short of the announced goal of $5,000. Although dates with most teams sold for $100-150, the women’s soccer team garnered a bid of $800 — far higher than the $500 record set by men’s volleyball last year.
“My favorite part of the event was just the whole atmosphere of everyone coming together and raising money for a really important cause,” Taaffe said.
Taaffe, who performed in Date Auction during her freshman year as a member of the rowing team, emphasized that the event is an effective way for freshman athletes to get more comfortable with their teammates. She explained that Date Auction both allows freshmen to adjust to their roles as student-athletes and also serves as a fundraiser for Camp Kesem.
Despite a number of technical problems and miscues throughout Date Auction, both athletes and attendees reported that they still enjoyed the event. Many of the freshman athletes echoed Taaffe’s sentiment that performing on stage was a bonding experience for their teams.
“Preparing our performance was probably the most fun part,” said men’s water polo player Grady Williams ’18. “The dance itself was also fun, and I don’t know exactly how well it went, but our team raised the second-most amount of money, so it couldn’t have gone that badly.”
“It was a really good opportunity for the freshmen on the [sailing] team to bond, and I’m so happy we were able to do that,” said sailor Amelia Hardy ’18.
Women’s field hockey player and Cardinal Council member Maddy Belin ’18 said that although it was stressful to try to live up to the field hockey team’s Date Auction reputation, she enjoyed participating in the event and felt that she grew closer to her teammates as a result. She was also pleased about the large turnout and the success of the event’s fundraising effort.
“We raised a ton of money for Camp Kesem, which is the ultimate goal, and it seemed like everybody had a lot of fun,” Belin said.
Audience members agreed with the athletes’ generally positive sentiments.
“The main reason I went was to see my fellow dorm athletes in action so it was definitely a fun and entertaining experience to see what they had to offer,” said spectator James Underwood ’18.
Contact Zachary Birnholz at zacharyb ‘at’ stanford.edu.