Published on February 11, 2017 by Philip Poole  
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Step Sing Winners 2017

Pi Kappa Phi fraternity returned to the winners circle, winning the coveted Sweepstakes Award in the 2017 edition of Samford University’s Step Sing Feb. 9–11.

With the theme “The Greatest Job on Earth,” the group told the story of dads who must balance the chaos of home life while moms are away.

Show codirector Will Robertson, a senior history major from Brentwood, Tennessee, said the theme of the show was “relatable,” which made it easy for the group. “We had a great group of guys who bought into the theme and really were able to sell it,” he added.

Robertson’s codirectors were Rich Fridy, a senior interior architecture major from New Port Richey, Florida, and Christian Rodriguez, a junior sociology major from West Palm Beach, Florida.

In addition to Sweepstakes, Pi Kappa Phi won the judges award for creativity, and the participants’ choice award for music and most entertaining show. Pi Kappa Phi previously won Sweepstakes in 2014, 2013 and 2009.

Alpha Tau Omega fraternity took first runner-up honors in only its third year to participate in Step Sing. Its show, “Mine for the Taking,” was about coal miners searching for “another epic adventure.” The group also won judges awards for choreography and music, and the participants’ choice award for choreography.

ATO directors were Evan Gunter, a senior music and worship major from Rainbow City, Alabama, and Carter Harbin, a sophomore prebusiness major from Dalton, Georgia.

Second runner up was Sigma Chi fraternity with “Runnin’ Wild,” a western-themed show. Directors were Richard Barnes, a senior marketing major from Franklin, Tennessee; Chris Colee, a senior biology major from Montgomery, Alabama; and JoJo Ellis, a sophomore business major from Danville, Kentucky.

Sigma Chi previously won Sweepstakes in 2015 and 2008 and was second runner-up in 2014.

Other participants’ choice awards went to Freshman Girls for costumes and Dudes-a-Plenty for favorite emcee. Freshman Girls codirectors were Chloe Champion, a prelaw major from Montgomery, Alabama; Cristiana Mariano, a musical theatre major from Peachtree City, Georgia; and Lucy Pharr, a musical theatre major from Tuxedo, North Carolina. Dudes-a-Plenty codirectors were Hunter Gibbs, a senior biology major from Nesbit, Mississippi, and Rob Johnston, a senior religion major from Homewood, Alabama.

Step Sing Committee Choice awards went to Alpha Delta Pi sorority for Best Moment, Sophomore Girls for Best Song, and Greek Addition for Directors of the Year.

Freshman Ladies won the Step Sing Character Award, presented to the group that demonstrates a spirit of congeniality and character in its actions on the stage and behind the scenes. The award was first presented in 2016.

Alpha Omicron Pi continued a decades-long tradition as the participating group that raised the most money for the Step Sing philanthropy. This year, all participating groups helped to raised $14,100—a Step Sing record—for Shauna’s House, one of five transition homes for Ukrainian orphanage graduates through Lifesong for Orphans.

The house is named for the late Shauna Yelton, who served for several years as director of Samford’s health services before her untimely death in 2015. Her husband, Todd, is head coach of the Samford women’s soccer team. He and his two children were at the presentation during the Saturday evening performance.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” he said. “We never imagined the love and support we would receive from this community. It is incredibly humbling.”

Overall show directors were Allie Gassner, a senior human development and family science major from Birmingham, and Chloe Roberts, a senior business management major from Tyler, Texas.

“This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my Samford life,” Roberts said. “It was cool to end my senior year with that.”

Gassner added, “Step Sing embodies so much of what Samford represents. It is the community coming together for a common goal.”

More than 1,100 students in 17 groups performed four shows in the 67th production of Step Sing, which came during the university’s 175th anniversary year. The show is totally student-produced and professionally judged. It is considered one of Samford’s most cherished traditions.

In addition to four live performances on campus that attracted about 8,000, there were more than 17,000 connections in 23 countries connected to live streams of the three evening shows.  The office of alumni programs provided Watch Party materials to 97 groups in 22 states and the District of Columbia. A special watch party that ended at 4 a.m. local time was held by the 24 students at Daniel House, Samford's London Study Centre. 

Step Sing originated on the steps of Renfroe Hall on Samford’s East Lake campus before the university relocated to its present location in the late 1950s. It was held in the gymnasium of Seibert Hall and other locations around the Homewood campus before finally landing in Wright Center in 1976. This was the 46th anniversary for the Sweepstakes Award.

2017 Step Sing Program

Video:  Interview with Winners

Video: Step Sing Signature Moves

Previous Sweepstakes Winners
2016   Dudes-a-Plenty
2015   Sigma Chi
2014   Pi Kappa Phi
2013   Pi Kappa Phi
2012   Dudes-a-Plenty
2011   Dudes-a-Plenty
2010   Dudes-a-Plenty
2009   Pi Kappa Phi
2008   Sigma Chi
2007   Dudes-a-Plenty

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.