Published on February 12, 2011 by Philip Poole  

For the second consecutive year, the independent men’s group Dudes-A-Plenty claimed the coveted Sweepstakes Award in Samford University’s annual Step Sing. It was the fourth sweepstakes for the all-male group, which organizes annually solely to perform in Step Sing. They also won in 2005 and 2007 and were first runner-up in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

The theme of their show was “Grandpas,’ about men rediscovering the joy of their youth, finding the love of their life and reminding the world they still know how to “break it down.” Student directors were Cameron Free, a senior business major from Boca Raton, Fla., and Josh Sizemore, a junior journalism major from Nicholasville, Ky.

First runner-up was University Ministries, with an act entitled “In the Potter’s Hands,” based on the popular Harry Potter novel series. Codirectors were Jen Taylor, a senior English major from Indianapolis, and Justine Davis, a senior musical theater major from Alhambra, Calif. This was the first time for the University Ministries group to place in recent history.

Second runner-up was men’s fraternity Pi Kappa Phi with a show entitled “Does It Live.” Pi Kappa Phi was the 2009 sweepstakes winner and first runner-up in 2010. Codirectors of the 2011 show were William Phillips, a senior English major from Pleasant Grove, Ala., Cameron Phillips, a senior political science major from Gainesville, Ala., and Thomas Sholtes, a junior business major.

Audience favorite awards went to Alpha Delta Pi sorority for choreography, Dudes-A-Plenty for costumes and University Ministries for music and most entertaining.

An emotional moment came during Sigma Chi’s show, “The Organization.” Co-director Ryan Penney was injured in a diving accident last summer and at one point had been told by doctors that he might never walk again. Moments into the Sigma Chi performance, Penney appeared on stage, tossed his crutches aside and belted out a solo that brought the audience to its feet each evening. Penney is a sophomore musical theater major from Nashville.

Alpha Omicron Pi continued a multi-year reign as the participating organization that raised the most funds for the Step Sing community service project. The 2011 philanthropy was KidOne Transport, which provides rides to medical appointments for children and expectant mothers.

Step Sing is an annual student-organized and produced competition that is professionally judged. It is considered one of Samford’s most cherished traditions. Thirteen groups, involving more than 900 students, participated in this year’s competition.

The three-night extravaganza was the 60th anniversary of the annual student production, which originated on the steps of Renfroe Hall on Samford’s East Lake campus before the university relocated to its present campus in the late 1950s. This was the 40th anniversary of the Sweepstakes Award.

The 2011 student coordinators were Erin Holman, a senior English major from Gastonia, N.C., and Briana Skinner, a senior biology major from Foley, Ala.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.