Getting Muddy with Emily Johnson

This week we spoke to Emily Johnson, the Vice President of Traditions of the Student Alumni Association, the organization that runs Oozeball at UConn.  Emily told us all about the planning and hard work involved in putting together UConn's annual mud volleyball tournament.

Name: Emily Johnson

Major: Health Care Management

Minor: Public Policy

Hometown: Cape Cod, MA

Other involvement besides Oozeball (Student Alumni Association):  Intern at Hartford HealthCare Integrated Care Partners, Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society

Post grad plans: I am tentatively moving to the Los Angeles area for an internship with Kaiser Permanente.

How and why did you become involved in SAA?

I honestly joined the Student Alumni Association because of their involvement with OOzeball. During admitted students day four years ago, I vividly remember watching muddy UConn students running all over campus having the times of their lives. This was a huge reason why I decided to attend UConn and then later join SAA.  The Student Alumni Association is social and professional organization responsible for creating, maintaining, and promoting UConn traditions. Everyone with UConn pride should consider joining!

Why did you want to take on a leadership role in Oozeball?

I wanted to assume the role of Vice President of Traditions because of the impact I could have on the campus as a whole. Our organization recently created a UConn Bucket List with “81 Things To Do Before You Graduate.” Since then, we have distributed over 2,000 copies of the poster to spread awareness of UConn traditions. As VP of Traditions, I can help to spread school pride and bring students together for events such as OOzeball.

What goes into Oozeball planning? 

OOzeball planning begins in December and continues through the end of April. Our organization coordinates with UConn Recreation, the Residence Hall Association, Parking Services, Facilities, the Fire and Police Department, Dining Services, and countless other departments and external organizations to organize a mud volleyball tournament involving over 3,000 players and staff. Members of SAA are actually responsible for making the mud the day before the event. After UConn facilities tills the field to make the courts, we wet the dirt with fire hoses and physically stomp around to make mud. If you are interested in getting a little muddy, we could definitely use some extra volunteers!

What's challenging about this role?

Though this tradition has been around for 33 years, we still do not have a permanent location for the event! This makes things interesting when a new location is thrown at us each year. It is also difficult to plan every aspect of such a large event, especially when your responsibilities range from creating the marketing plan to ordering the port-a-potties. This role is especially suitable for anyone with a passion for event planning.

Does you think this leadership position will help with any of your post-grad plans? How so?

This position has already helped me in countless ways. I have learned how to develop a marketing plan aimed at a specific population as well as how to oversee a large budget. Being able to collaborate with other departments, staff members, and peers is a vital skill that will help me in my future career path.

What's your favorite part of Oozeball?

My favorite part of OOzeball is watching everything come together. After months of hard work, it is incredibly rewarding to see everyone enjoying the muddy madness. Last year, we introduced an All-Star game to the schedule where a team of student leaders played a team of staff leaders. Susan Herbst was able to play and had a blast! Come by the tournament at noon to see this year’s All-Star tournament. 

Emily (front and center) at a previous oozeball tournament.