|12th Meeting of the PENN Chapter of Trent Alumni|
by Mike Johnny, Penn Historian
The PENN CLASSIC
It is amusing, almost laughable actually, to think that the Penn Classic has grown to the point where it is now featured in the Trent Magazine. After all, a glorified boys weekend does not seem like the stuff that this publication is all about. TrenT has been built on featuring academic achievements; the sense of international adventure born from exciting years at Trent; and the professional successes strengthened in part as the result of memorable and meaningful years at Trent University. If one wants to look hard enough at this, it's all there, but then who likes to do that? Let's hear about the party!!
So what is the Penn Classic? On the surface it is an athletic competition, held annually for 12 years, assembled by three Trent alumni in 1989 after our second-year of undergraduate study. But before that, one needs to know about the Penn. Located at 315 Bethune Street, the Penn was the name given to the off-res. home for Mike Johnny ('87), Reagan Light ('87), and Doug Stoakley ('87). For two years we lived there, the same house where windows were covered with plastic that were painted to resemble prison bars; where guests were encouraged to sign our walls in permanent marker; where dinner parties meant we had to lay plywood over the pool table; and, where dishes were occasionally done in the tub (don't even ask about the sink). Planning parties was a simple manner of posting notices all over campus "Party at the Penn - Friday Night".
While we chose creative ways to rejuvenate our young scholastic minds, athletics were most often at the heart of our leisure activities. Black Seals hockey, Bon Temps Broomball, and the Champlain College Pig Bowl were hallowed events in our lives. Along with our fellow I-J Dirt Pig, John Wales ('87), (the same Mr. Wales who, with wife Roxanne ('91), are Don's at Lady Eaton College) we enjoyed our years at Trent, resulting in strong friendships.
May of 1989, in an attempt to determine athletic superiority within the Penn, a golf game was planned that quickly grew in magnitude, the likes of which are only seen on a Sunday in April, in Augusta, Georgia. The following year, after adding billiards and tennis, the Penn Classic was born. For the first five years we traveled back to Peterborough to participate. In 1990, we welcomed Andy McDonald ('86) for golf and in 1993, John Wales became a our welcome fourth. He has been a permanent fixture within the Penn Classic since 1997.
It was in 1994 that we decided to move the Penn Classic around, as well as introducing family and friends to compete with us in all events. For three years, we held the Penn Classic in Hamilton, Kingston, and Salamanca, N.Y. Now, for the fourth year consecutively, we have returned to Peterborough. There is something very special about reacquainting ourselves with the people and places that made Trent so special for us. There are Trent faculty members we each like to visit, our annual trip to the Excalibur (Bob and Elaine make Chicken Wings to die for), and, after all, there is only one Pig's Ear!!
The Penn Classic has grown along with each of us. Our families all participated in the 1995 Penn Classic in Kingston, and well as the officially sanctioned Penn-tathalon in Gravenhurst. At that time, Meghan Johnny, daughter of Mike Johnny and Jill Clark-Johnny ('86), was only seven months old when she received her own write-up in the Penn archives for her costume in the murder mystery party.
Oh yes, these events are well chronicled. A book has been developed to capture the events of each year. This book includes a Penn Classic Constitution, participant biographies, full and comprehensive statistics, a detailed summary of events (on and off the field of play) for each year, quotes, highlights, pictures, and, new for 2000, we have added odds for each participant to win the coveted MVP award. Every year, the previous years' summary is read to participants at the Pig's Ear on the Friday evening as a kick-off to the weekend.
This year we celebrated with a return to I-J staircase at Champlain College, where we lived in residence in our first-year. Mike, Reagan, Doug, John, Andy, Paul Carey ('87), Rod McDonald (former JBC student, current Trent A/V Staff), and nine others enjoyed the largest and most exciting Penn Classic to date. There were many old stories about our year on residence at Champlain (the last year of I-J staircase as male-only, bless you Freddie Hagar), especially as the original Penn members stayed in our old residence rooms.
The competition was fierce, but re-uniting with old friends, meeting new friends, and the annual jump off the bridge made this year's Penn Classic the best yet! The events were meant to be fun, but became very intense and competitive. The Sunday 'Skins Game' at Keystone Links has already reached legendary proportions. But this year, staying in I-J staircase at Champlain allowed us to celebrate the spirit of the Penn Classic unlike any other year in recent memory. Trent is the foundation for all of this. Our Air Miles accounts can attest to that.
Reagan Light is now living in Istanbul, Turkey, where he is teaching English. He has also traveled to Japan, Thailand, Belize and Scotland since graduating from Trent. Traveling home, well over 7000 km, is not new for him, or noteworthy in itself. But to dedicate travel plans around the Penn Classic shows how special this event has become in our lives. Reagan is best known for his ability to play tennis with a cigarette in his mouth, tennis racquet in one hand, and brown-bottled beverage in the other. His golf game closely resembles a jungle expedition, yet again with vices close by, is an enjoyable event.
Doug Stoakley, his wife Julie and daughter Sage are now living in Texas. Doug is enjoying success working at Logitech, and it keeps him quite busy. Leisure time consists of playing hockey and enjoying some quality time at home. Doug mixed his return to Peterborough with the opportunity to catch up with two of his brothers, who were also invitees to the Penn Classic. Two years ago, it was felt Doug succumbed to the pressure of the Classic after a weekend of illness highlighted by a bad showing at golf. However, upon his return home he was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Now that is playing through pain!!
Mike Johnny is living in Hamilton. Along with Jill and Meghan, they are enjoying close friendships with many other Trent Alumni from Champlain College. Mike is the official Penn Historian (how is that for applying a Trent History degree!!). And no, the Penn Constitution was not a writing sample included in his successful application for part-time graduate study at Trent, commencing this fall! Ah, three years of student life ahead, but things promise to be much, much different this time!!
There are likely other 'Boys Weekend' groups that have developed from friendships at Trent. In fact, there are likely many 'Girls Weekend' groups too!! To answer a question posed earlier, 'What is the Penn Classic?' It is a unique and special combination of friendship, athletics, alcohol, glory, sleep deprivation and family. At the heart of it all is Trent. The next logical move is to formally designate the Penn Classic as the annual gathering of the Penn Chapter of Trent Alumni. Sounds good to us!!
Special thanks to Tony Storey and the Alumni Office, as well as the Trent University Bookstore for their support and generosity. We look forward to returning in 2001!!