Erica Brody

Orange Jacket president Erica Brody discusses upcoming events in the clubÂ’s weekly meeting on Wednesday night. The Orange Jackets will host The Capture the 40 Acres Flag Football Benefit Tournament, an event that will raise money for abused and neglected girls, on campus this Sunday.

Photo Credit: Amanda Martin | Daily Texan Staff

Every year the Orange Jackets, the oldest all-girl honorary service organization at UT, recruit a new class of sophomores and juniors that spend a year doing large-scale service projects. This year’s class began doing projects in October and will continue the until April initiation, when they receive their orange jackets.

“We’ve had more of a quiet presence, but we’re definitely building up our face value,” said Courtney Kauffman, Plan II and biology senior. “Even though we’re a small group, I bet most people on campus have interacted with at least one Orange Jacket. People just don’t realize how many they interact with.”

Although the Orange Jackets are hosting Sunday’s activities, many students are still unaware of the strength and presence they have long possessed on campus. Their name comes from the burnt orange vests they wear around campus and as they lead the school in “The Eyes of Texas” before kickoff at football games. Other long-standing traditions include the first organized mom-and-dad’s day, now called parents’ weekend.

“A lot of people don’t know what Orange Jackets are,” said Erica Brody, business honors and marketing senior. “By wearing our orange vests, we embody the entire UT community. We are very honored.”

The Orange Jackets have been on campus since 1923. This Sunday, they will host the Capture the 40 Acres flag football benefit tournament all around campus, a 2006 class project that, because of its resounding success, has continued to be a project for each new class since.

“I like it because we’re not just standing around and asking for money. It’s just a fun event,” Kauffman said. “It’s a way for the entire community to come together for a good cause.”

The $60 tournament fee goes directly to The Settlement Home, an organization for helping abused and neglected girls from ages 9 to 14 that the Orange Jackets visit every other Friday. The Settlement Home became their main project in the late ’90s after feeling a close connection to the home and all of the young women that live there.

“We serve as positive role models and do fun activities with the girls,” Brody said. “We also look more long term and invite them to UT to discuss college preparation and life goals.”

Last year, the tournament raised about $2,000 for The Settlement Home with about 52 teams entering. With the bar set high this year, the Orange Jackets hope they will continue to have just as much success.

“We try to make it a rounded event,” Kauffman said. “It’s something you don’t know if you want to do, but once you play, you realize how much fun you’re having.”

The tournament has three different playing times, each in one-hour shifts, with each team of six only playing for one hour. These teams of six are usually combined with another team of six, creating a 12-on-12 game of capture the flag. By combining groups from different organizations around campus, students have the opportunity to meet other students from different organizations.

The game has seven bases spread out around campus with each base starting out with seven flags, but the teams won’t know where the other bases are prior to the start of the game. The Orange Jackets say that this usually results in a fairly calm first 30 minutes before the competition heats up and alliances begin to form.

“Surprisingly, we’ve had all-girl teams win because of the stealth factor,” Kauffman said. “The best way to get flags is to go on these stealth missions when no one is expecting it.”

The Tournament also has jail time just like most versions of capture the flag. However, jail time only lasts for 15 minutes, and most that have played in years past insist that jail time is just part of the game and ensures the game remains fair.

At the end of the hour, whichever team has collected the most flags wins. There is also an overall winner for the day for the team that has collected the most out of all of the three shifts.

Although this is only the sixth year of Capture the 40 Acres, the Orange Jackets have received continuous praise and support and expect this year will only garner more support.

“Before people come to Capture the 40 Acres, they don’t know what The Settlement Home is, but those girls can really use our help,” Brody said. “We’re committed to give back to the community, and we’re so honored to be able to serve in that role.”

Printed on Thursday, November 3, 2011 as: Service group hosts capture the flag

Students wrote thank-you notes in exchange for hot chocolate and other treats at the first Campus Support Staff Appreciation Day on Wednesday.

The Orange Jackets hosted the event, which aimed to fill a niche other appreciation days do not cover, said marketing/business honors junior Erica Brody, who is also the organization’s vice president of special events. The appreciation day targeted workers in custodial and facilities services, Information Technology Services, the UT Police Department and any department that serves an ancillary function at the University.

Brody said the event recognized them because their work often goes unnoticed.

“We sort of take for granted what they do,” she said.

The organization set up tables on Gregory Plaza furnished with cookies, chocolate, candy canes and hot cocoa. Some of the snacks had notes attached to them.

Many employees stopped by to enjoy the food provided by
the group.

“It’s really a positive, it feels really great,” said building attendant Mary Villarreal. “It feels like we’re appreciated.”

Throughout the day, students came by to write personal notes of gratitude. They pinned them onto a Christmas tree the group erected near the tables.

“It’s what happens behind the scenes that people don’t really see,” said government sophomore Angelica Flores. “It’s the people who work behind the scenes who don’t really get credit for this stuff.”

Shreeya Popat, a Plan II and premed junior, said Brody came up with the idea after meeting a university worker in one of the dorms who worked at least six days a week to support her family while also studying to get her GED.

Brody said the employee was always enthusiastic about working with the students, and the students should return the favor.

“We’re going to take all the notes off and deliver them to the staff so they can hang them up and put them up on their wall and realize that they are appreciated,” Popat said.

Brody said the organization contacted all of the managers throughout the Division of Housing and Food Service and other facility entities within the University to let employees know about the event.

The group hopes to make it an annual event and to get other student organizations involved.

“We want to work with other student organizations to make it a larger and more far-reaching event,” Brody said.