The Coca Cola Company, under the umbrella of its Sprite brand, last week announced the largest fraternity and sorority step tournament ever.
The national competition is expected to expose the age-old tradition, popular among Black sororities and fraternities on college campuses, to the country at-large. Not since the 2007 movie, “Stomp the Yard,” has the physical art form, born and bred primarily at historically Black colleges, come to the American mainstream in such a high-profile way.
“We’re really excited about the Sprite Step-Off, said Maurice Cooper, Brand Manger for Sprite. “It will be the most dynamic, multi-cultural event of the 2009-2010 year. It will give a fresh perspective to youth around the country on performance and scholarship in a way that is unique and unprecedented."
The event, which kicks off this weekend at the Black Family Reunion in Washington, starts a tournament that will travel to 25 cities and include 30 preliminary rounds. Each regional competition will offer three cash prizes in the form of scholarships to the students and additional money to the schools they represent. At the grand finale, which will be held in January in Atlanta and broadcast either on television or on the Internet, the winning step team will take home a grand prize of $150, 000 in scholarships.
All the prizes will total $1.5 million.
Cooper says he's excited about the three-dimensional model of the tournament. First: the participation of the students and schools in the step competition with live performances by top national recording artists and other local artists and DJs. Then, there's the public entertainment aspect of the event itself and a service component that, over the span of the competition, will dedicate 1.5 million community service hours to groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
“We look forward to the students using their talents to inspire our youth about everything - from physical fitness to showing our young people to do a step or two and educating them about the culture of stepping. Most importantly, inspiring them to stay in school and to aspire to go to college,” says Frank Sanchez, Vice President of Corporate and Partner relationships for the Boys and Girls Club of America. Sanchez says his organization’s 4,300 chapters reach about 4.5 million kids across the country.
Step teams can still sign up for the tournament at the Sprite Step Off Web site, which features a full and savvy suite of Web products promoting the competition. All steppers must be currently enrolled in college and active members of Greek Letter organizations in good academic standing.
“At the end of the day, its about inspiring young people to higher heights," says Cooper, "and this platform will do that."
To sign up your step team, visit: www.spritestepoff.com