KU’s annual Late Night in the Phog brings with it the excitement of a new basketball season. And when Kansas Athletics needed a high-energy host to keep the crowd of 16,300 buzzing, they turned to KU Alumni’s own Danny Woods.
Woods, j’13, helps manage the 50-plus networks of Jayhawk alumni across the country with a level of enthusiasm worthy of the Phog. We sat down with him to hear about his experience on James Naismith Court.
How did you get the job?
I was approached by KU Athletics around the time of the KU vs. Rutgers football game. They asked if I would be interested in doing pregame PA announcements for Gameday on the Hill, a tailgating experience on Campanile Hill with food, beverages, retail and live music before football games. Nothing was mentioned about Late Night at this time, but I think it was a test run. Athletics was just making sure I could, as the saying goes, walk and chew gum at the same time. I was offered the emcee position the following week.
How much freedom were you given?
Working with the Athletics marketing office was great. Leading up to Late Night they provided me with a script and a timeline of events. But they told me, “We want you to be yourself out there. Change up any of the language so it feels comfortable and natural to you.” It was a great feeling to have the framework of the house, but then be able to furnish it myself.
How did you think your performance went?
Well, I didn’t get fired yet, so that’s always a plus! But for real, it was awesome. To be honest, I was super nervous. Late Night is a huge night for KU students, alumni and fans, and I just wanted to make sure they had a great experience. There are definitely opportunities for me to grow and make future emcee performances better. And yes, this is definitely me openly lobbying to be the emcee for future Late Nights.
What was your favorite part of the night?
Can I take the easy road out and say the whole thing? This was actually the first Late Night I have been to since I was a student. When I worked in the Office of Admissions, Late Night always fell during travel and recruitment season. *cough cough* Any prospective students out there reading this make sure you apply by the Nov. 1st scholarship deadline! And since I have been at the Alumni Association, I have always been out in one of our national networks during Late Night. So just having the opportunity to be in Allen Fieldhouse during Late Night was the best.
Most importantly: Did you get to meet 2 Chainz?
2 Chainz and I got to be in the same room and we definitely breathed the same air. I did not, however, formally meet him. I was afraid if I actually tried to introduce myself to him before Late Night that I would pass out from excitement.
It’s been 25 years since the 1993-94 basketball season, when Jacque Vaughn introduced himself to the world with an overtime buzzer-beater against Indiana. For some Jayhawks, their experience that season was special not just for what happened on the court, but also in the stands.
Jeremy Boldra spent his sophomore year in the stands as Kramer, Jerry’s goofy neighbor in the hit television series “Seinfeld”. What began as an idea for a Halloween costume put Boldra, d’97 g’03, into Captain Jayhawk-levels of fame for one fun season.
We could try to tell the story, but perhaps it’s best to let the man himself share how Kramer came to be.
An idea is born
The idea came to me when a roommate saw me with my hair standing up and told me I looked like Kramer. At the time I had no idea who that was, so he introduced me to “Seinfeld,” which we soon were all watching together every Thursday night. As we watched, I knew I could totally play that character. So I decided I’d do it for a Halloween party my sophomore year. That fall, I saw an ad in the Daily Kansan for a sitcom character contest at Late Night with Roy Williams, which was the night before Halloween.
When I got to the Fieldhouse, I knew I had to make an entrance like Kramer always would. So I swung the door open and stormed in, making so much noise that all the contestants that were already there turned and said “Kramer!” One of the judges literally leaps over a table and tells me “You’re in!”
So it’s time for the contest and we’re in the hallway where the team comes out. They called my name, and I had a plan. I just jogged out there, and once I made it to the free throw line, I wiped out. I hit the floor, then got up shaking, then strutting out to half court. By the time I got there, fans were chanting “Kramer! Kramer!” The chanting went on over the next contestant. One contestant got booed, another got no response. I made it to the finals, the Kramer chants started again, and it was a blast.
Kramer lives on
The next night was Halloween, and we were talking with some cheerleaders at a party who said I should dress up for home games, so after a little convincing I decided to do it.
So I dressed up as Kramer in the student section, and by the second or third game people were asking me for autographs, it was getting a little weird. So I decided to not dress up for the next game. Which was Temple, which we lost. As I was leaving, several people said to me “We lost because you didn’t dress up.” So I start dressing up again and sure enough, we go on a huge winning streak.
I only did it for that year. I had a lot of fun, but it was time. Since then, I’ve run into people who remember me from those games.
Where is Kramer now? Boldra is the superintendent at Flint Hills school district, just outside of El Dorado. Jeremy and his wife, Bryna, have two sons, Landon, 11, and Keenan, 8. This year’s Late Night in the Phog takes place Friday, Sept. 28.
KU Alumni Association members received an email this week that shared exciting news about Homecoming 2013– this year’s Homecoming Parade is moving to downtown Lawrence! The parade will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3.
Colorful floats depicting this year’s theme, “Jayhawks Around the World,” will travel north down Massachusetts St., along with the Spirit Squad and Marching Jayhawks. Following the parade, the celebration will continue with a pep rally on Eight Street between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, a popular spot for block parties.
A new night
You might be asking, “Why Thursday?” Well, if you’re a basketball fan, you’ve likely heard that Late Night in the Phog, the annual first look at the men’s and women’s basketball teams, is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 4– coinciding with Homecoming weekend. The NCAA moved the start of fall men’s basketball practice up by two weeks, which allowed for an earlier time slot for Late Night.
Last year’s Homecoming Parade was held on Friday night of Homecoming weekend, but with 16,000 KU students, alumni and fans descending on Mount Oread for Late Night–many of them waiting in line at the doors for hours– a Friday night parade on campus just isn’t feasible.
For a number of years, the parade was held on Saturday before the Homecoming football game. However, because kickoff time often isn’t announced until a week or two before the game, planning a parade is difficult, and an early kickoff time often results in a parade at 8 a.m.
So, this year’s Homecoming Steering Committee got creative and considered a variety of options before settling on Thursday night and deciding to move downtown, with the hope that more Lawrence community members will participate.
Holding the Homecoming Parade off campus is not unprecedented. From 1984 to 1990, the parade was held downtown, and it moved back to Jayhawk Boulevard in 1991.
And yes, local Lawrencians, we are fully aware that downtown is the site of another event on Oct. 3– the seventh annual Zombie Walk.
“We are eager to welcome the community to the Homecoming Parade on Mass Street,” says Kevin Corbett, c’88, president of the KU Alumni Association. “After talking with our KU colleagues, downtown leaders and the organizers of the zombie event, we are all confident that KU’s 101-year-old Homecoming tradition and the Zombie Walk can share downtown on Oct. 3 and welcome those who are fans of the Jayhawks, zombies or both.”
Join us downtown for what’s sure to be a fun and interesting Homecoming celebration– after all, variety is what makes Lawrence, and especially downtown, a place we all treasure!
The KU Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming steering committee have planned a week of events from Sunday, Sept. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 5, concluding with the Homecoming football game featuring KU vs. Texas Tech Oct. 5 in Memorial Stadium. Visit www.kualumni.org/homecoming to view a daily schedule, meet the steering committee and learn more about KU’s Homecoming tradition.