First Virtual RC Olympics Succeeds in Building Section Bonds

Israt Tarin, Campus News Editor

Israt Tarin (MBA ’22) reports on how the first ever virtual RC Olympics was organized and discusses the historic levels of participation by the RCs.

An important component of section learning is to quickly break the ice and create a sense of camaraderie. It is no small feat in a normal year, and this year the challenge was compounded by all events having to be virtual due to Covid-19.

One event that was instrumental in accelerating the section bonding process was the RC Olympics. With the aim of working within the limitations of making the event virtual while also making it appeal to both brain and brawn, the Student Association and co-hosting clubs created a two-week virtual RC Olympics, comprising ten games that would test the newly formed RC sections’ spirit.

Lukas Lukoschek (MBA ’21) the Student Association’s VP of Athletics and Alex Oyler (MBA ’21) led the organizing team for this year’s RC Olympics. Lukoschek shared how they were able to overcome the challenges of organizing the event in this unusual environment.

“Two objectives guided the RC competition this year,” Lukoschek explained. “First, the games should be a conduit to get to know section mates and form a section bond. Second, the games should spark the competitive spirit among students. In the past, field day had been criticized for exclusively focusing on athletic abilities. We saw this year’s virtual constraint as an opportunity to break away from the sports focus and make the competition more inclusive. The chosen events spanned the disciplines of art, creativity, humor, and athletics. We hoped the games would give each student, including the students calling in from around the world, a chance to contribute and connect with their new section.”

With a virtual START week and zoom fatigue kicking in for the RC’s, the organizing team also wanted to ensure that the games helped students have fun rather than become an administrative nightmare.

“Compared to last year’s single-day in-person event, a challenge this year was communication.” Lukoschek added. “We did not want to spam students with emails, nor did we want to rely on shared documents and spreadsheets on the cloud that would seem make-shift. Luckily, the Engage platform was introduced this summer that we used to communicate rules, results, and game submissions with the students. Shout out to the SAS team for helping us integrate the RC Olympics on short notice.”

How did the RCs view these thoughtful minutiae? The participation numbers spoke for themselves. For instance, the “Best Attended Virtual Dinner” event saw the participation of 85 students and their partners from Section B. The various Instagram posts for games such as “Best Meme” and “Most Viral Social Media Post” raked in thousands of views and “likes” across all sections. In particular, Section A’s “balloon dance” post was viewed by over 50,000 people.

Section B had the added pressure to uphold the legacy of last year’s winners—Old Section B. However, they had to first fend off tough competition from other sections. Section A and Section D showed their prowess in the talent arena by jointly winning the “Most Talented Section.” The Talent Show (which could be called a lite-version of HBS Talent Show) requires special mention not just for the level of participation but also for the diversity of performances that ranged from Afrobeat to Bhangra. Section G unleashed their creativity to win the “Best Section Flag” while Section H demonstrated that trash can be worthy of a vogue style photoshoot by winning the “Best Upcycled Section Outfit” title.

If the creatives led the way, the athletes were not far behind. The first game named “RC Challenge” consisted of several exercises from push-ups to squats. It was incredible to watch as students held position on a 12-minute plank without breaking a sweat. The event certainly leveraged all the powers of Zoom as participants logged in from their rooms or campus to be cheered on by hundreds of section-mates from campus and across the world. Sections logged in a total of 807.1 hours in both running and cycling as they competed to be named the fittest section.

Ultimately Section B proved to be the overall winner of the RC Olympics with 19 points, a six point lead over the runner up, Section A. When asked how Section B did so well, Pracheer Gupta (MBA ’22) from Section B noted, “One reason we did so well is because everyone chipped in equally. No one had to shoulder the entire responsibility and this was evident in every competition we participated in. For every game, a leader emerged organically and others did everything they could to support him or her. It was a true example of collective spirit in action.”

Shardule Shah (MBA ’22), also from Section B, added, “Our section-mates were unabashed in showing their competitive spirit. Whether it be coordinating a group dance, holding a plank for an absurd amount of time, or contributing in any other way, the pride that everyone took in trying to be the best was inspiring. Will this help us become Baker/Shad Scholar? No. But will this leave us with a lifetime of awesome memories? You bet!”

Was the organizing team pleased with the participation? “Participation and spirit far exceeded our expectations.” Lukoschek shared. “Initially, we were worried that students would not contribute at all. However, the sequential nature of the games with a daily-updating medal table, coupled with the competitive spirit of the students, led to growing section participation. In conjunction, the co-hosting clubs delivered a fantastic experience by taking ownership of the design and execution of each game. Post games, we concluded that the talent, energy, and companionship of HBS Class 2022 was truly inspiring.”

Israt Tarin (MBA ’22) came to HBS after working in the Oil and Gas industry as a Chemical Engineer. She was born in Chittagong and raised in Dubai, and she lives in Houston. She loves reading stories about people and wants to contribute to these stories being told to a wider audience.