The Colgate Scene
January 2006

People on the go

Marshall Olds '72

September 29, 2005, holds tremendous significance for Marshall Olds '72. It's the day he became a knight.

In a ceremony at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where Olds teaches, the French cultural attaché pinned a silver and purple medal to his lapel, designating Olds a Chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques -- the equivalent of receiving a French knighthood. Olds was honored by the French government for his work as the Willa Cather Professor and professor of French at UNL and for his editorship of the cultural and literary journal Nineteenth-Century French Studies, the premier publication of its kind.

"It is a meaningful acknowledgement on the part of the French government and the French Ministry of Education of the work that I've done over the past 25 years in trying to introduce students to the very best aspects of French civilization and culture," Olds said.

Created in 1808 by Napoleon I, the Palmes Académiques were conceived to honor outstanding faculty members of the University of Paris. Membership was later expanded to embrace foreigners who have contributed to the expansion of French culture in the world.

"I began studying French in the fourth grade in Cleveland," said Olds. "We had really good teachers. They were French women who were infinitely patient with a group that didn't always cooperate. And my mother was a real Francophile."

He spent a year in England studying the language before arriving at Colgate, where, Olds said, "I had wonderful professors, and I was fortunate to begin taking the upper-level seminars when I was a freshman. That was a heady experience."

Olds relished his experience on Colgate's Dijon Study Group, and, as the current head of the French section at UNL, he developed a similar program for students there. This semester, he's traveling with 18 UNL students to Besançon, France.

A year ago, Olds spent the spring 2005 semester at Colgate as the Olive B. O'Connor Visiting Professor of literature.

"It was a sheer delight to come back. I taught in classrooms where I had been a student, and the memories were just smiling at me around every corner," he said. "I loved my colleagues, and I really, really loved the students."

As part of France's prestigious "violet legion," Olds holds the uncommon distinction of being a French knight in a non-aristocratic society. Although the knighthood requires no specific duties to be performed, Olds won't forget that extraordinary Thursday in September.

"I'm very proud to have received this honor," he said. — Vicki L. Wilson


Doug Taylor MA'66

Doug Taylor MA'66 was in a pinch. With dozens of friends and no snowflakes for what he had billed as a midwinter sledding fest, Taylor needed to find a new party pastime -- quickly. Looking out over frozen Woodland Lake from his home in Brighton, Mich., Taylor had a flashback to an article he had read about a funky sport hybrid.

"I had read that somebody tried to play soccer on ice, and they used a traditional soccer ball on a lake. It clicked that, hey -- I have clean ice, I have a nice lake, and I have all these people coming."

He crafted a makeshift kickable sack out of a burlap bag stuffed with rags, and after a lively game, Ice Soccer was created.

"It was such an overwhelmingly positive reaction that I wanted to make it go further. So I started working on a patent," said Taylor.

What emerged was an oversized cloth-filled puck whose weight and shape help to keep it in play on the ice.

"You're kickin' this thing around. You're booting it. Call it the Boot'r," suggested his sweetheart. Taylor trademarked his creation, and founded Taylor Sports, LLC, and a website, www.icesoccer.com, to market it and the game.

Ice Soccer may be bundles of fun, but this man means business. Taylor hopes to see it played professionally in franchised leagues by 2015. Last February, Colgate was the site of the first-ever organized game of Ice Soccer.

Senior Gavin Fisco, who played in that early game, said, "I really liked Ice Soccer and actually called the athletic department earlier this year to see what I could do to get the sport started here as an IM game."

Although Ice Soccer has yet to make the intramural list at Colgate, reviews from student players were overwhelmingly positive. Taylor has also received good press in regional newspapers and on the Michigan media forum, Mlive.com.

One might ask -- isn't this sort of dangerous?

"Let's look at someone who is learning to ice skate," Taylor explained. "They twirl and fall and they get back up. A lot. And they have no protection. Imagine them with knee pads, elbow pads, hip pads, and a helmet. Almost all sports have safety equipment, and this one does, too. If you can get people [to realize this] they say, `hey, this is pretty cool!'"

Ice cold, to be exact. — Sarah Howie '06


VIP event coordinator Hilary St. Jean '02 (far left) and others pal around with the Rolling Stones on their A Bigger Bang tour. [Enlarge]

Hilary St. Jean '02 finds herself in a different city every other day.

Such is life for the official VIP event coordinator for The Rolling Stones. She is accompanying the legendary rockers on all 53 confirmed dates of their North American "A Bigger Bang" tour.

St. Jean is the average fan's ticket to a backstage pass (which is laminated and commemorative, not an actual invite to roam behind the scenes). She coordinates the perks for showgoers who purchase VIP party packages through venue box offices or the Rolling Stones website.

Tour sponsors like Ameriquest or Mercedes can request parties at different venues, she said, and Mick Jagger might decide on a whim to throw a party that's too big to fit backstage. So when St. Jean receives word two days before a party that the VIP count has ballooned from 100 to 250 people, she's also the designated fix-it gal, shuffling party locations, upping the cheese and cracker count, and ensuring that guests are none the wiser.

It's almost a 24-hour day. Unloading begins at 8 a.m. for the tour trucks (37 for arena shows and 68 for stadium shows), and the setup doesn't wrap until 4 a.m. the next day.

How did she learn to juggle multiple events, solve problems quickly, and handle the quirky personalities and occasionally less-than-glamorous realities of life on the road?

St. Jean, who graduated with a degree in Spanish and philosophy, said, "What's interesting about Colgate, about a liberal arts education, is that it teaches you about communication, about being a people person. That kind of personality goes a long way in any professional atmosphere."

A defining part of her Colgate experience was the Madrid Study Group. She noted that going abroad forced her to become more independent. "It was a good way to get that perspective," she said.

St. Jean had landed her first touring gig after her junior year when her cousin's venture capital firm, where she had worked summers, decided to experiment with fan club management. She later switched to I Love All Access.com and now works for The Next Adventure, and has worked for A-list acts including Aerosmith, Christina Aguilera, Velvet Revolver, and Van Halen.

Although her interaction with the musicians is limited, it does happen.

"Keith sent flowers to all the girls on the tour . . . so I've got this card and it's kind of cool to have. I never went up to any of the people in the band -- I was never star struck to that level," she said. "I'm so busy that I don't even think about it. It's a job." — Elisa Benson '06

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