Club puts sports fan on the right track
By Brittany Haltom
Photo by Brittany Haltom
Jeremy Russell, a senior agricultural economics major from Eaton, Ind., sits with the Boilermaker Special, Purdue's official mascot. Russell is a member of the Reamer Club, which
maintains the train. Full-size image (349 KB)
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Jeremy Russell drew a lot of looks and laughs when he drove an oversized train to Purdue
University football games last season. The Purdue sports fan is living the ultimate fan experience: driving the Boilermaker
Special, the university's official mascot.
"The most fun part is driving on the interstate and watching people," Russell said. "Especially when
you're out of state, people will pull up and try to take pictures or video footage of you because they've never seen it
But piloting the Boilermaker Special is more than just fun for the senior
agricultural economics major from Eaton, Ind. His role with the
Reamer Club, the student organization that takes care of the
mascot, connects Russell to something larger.
"We are in charge of preserving the traditions and spirit of Purdue," he said.
Russell's favorite Purdue tradition is actually a piece of history. It was called the tank
scrap, a harsh annual fight (or scrap) that ended in 1913. The freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes battled each other
around the West Lafayette city water tank. The winning class was the one that tied up their opponent first. The winners paraded
the losers around in their underwear and paint-covered bodies.
Although the scrap is long-gone, Russell said traditions matter.
"As far as carrying on the Purdue tradition, I am proud to be a student in the College of
Ag," Russell said. "Purdue has a long-standing tradition of excelling in both engineering and agriculture, and I am fortunate
to be able to take part in that tradition."
His connection to the Boilermaker Special goes beyond the football field, too. He has taken
the Boilermaker Special to weddings and birthday parties.
"Those are some of the fun events, because you get to deal with little kids who just light
up when they see the train. It is neat to be a part of that and make someone's day," Russell said.
There are also some perks to driving the official mascot of Purdue. Russell has met some of
the stars of Purdue athletics, including Purdue's head football coach.
"It's just something that gets me a little further involved on the sports side of
campus," he said. "It gives you special access to those sorts of things."
Russell also credits the Reamer Club for helping him make friends with a variety of people
across campus, including his two roommates: Calvin Herr, a senior
civil engineering major from South Windsor, Conn., and Cory
Brewer, a senior aviation management
aviation management major from West Lafayette.
"Since it's an encompassing student organization, I have been able to meet people from
every college on campus and a wide variety of majors. That's been really neat to make those friends and contacts throughout
those majors," Russell said.
Russell has always loved watching Purdue sports. Having the chance to pilot the Boilermaker
Special gave him a front-row seat to all the action.