Club puts sports fan on the right track

By Brittany Haltom​

Jeremy Russel

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 before."

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.​