OXFORD, Miss. – For the third time, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University will join forces for a common cause before the state’s biggest rivalry with the 2015 Egg Bowl Run, coming up Nov. 23.
Three years ago, Master Sgt. Matt Hayes, senior military instructor for Ole Miss Army ROTC, wanted to create a way to bring the community together during the month of Veterans Day.
“It’s a way for us to recognize our future leaders and celebrate the camaraderie of serving together,” Hayes said. “Participating in the run each year shows discipline, sacrifice and courage while the cadets are learning and building friendships.”
Last year, the ROTC expanded the Egg Bowl Run to include a fundraiser for the ROTC activities fund, which allows the program to host events and ceremonies for cadets as well as offer scholarships. More than $5,000 was raised in 2014 through the Ignite Ole Miss crowdfunding platform.
Senior battalion commander Michael Resha of Birmingham, Alabama, has participated in the run all three years.
“It’s a great way to continue the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State,” Resha said. “It’s a great way for the cadets to bond and feel that we’re actively making a difference in this program.”
Senior cadet Cody Becker of Madison also has participated in the run for three years and is a recipient of an ROTC scholarship, so he said he recognizes the importance of keeping a fund to offer opportunities to others, as well as the importance of bonding with other cadets.
“It’s definitely an incentive to work harder every day,” he said. “This run gives us a chance to work with Mississippi State cadets in a way that we haven’t in the past. The Egg Bowl rivalry is such a big deal that we thought we should join our programs together. We’re rivals now, but when we graduate, we’ll be brothers in arms, so we’re creating a bond that’s good for the U.S. Army and for America.”
The runners will begin their journey from the south end zone entrance of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and be escorted down University Avenue to Highway 7 for the 50-mile leg to the halfway point in Calhoun City, where they hand off the game ball to MSU cadets.
“This is an opportunity for our cadets to give back to the community and to show solidarity with Mississippi State,” said Lt. Col. Scott Walton, UM professor of military science.
Community participation in greeting the runners has grown tremendously, he said.
“Cheering them on during the run gives them a sense that they’re a part of the team,” he said. “It’s great because we’re isolated from the community most of the time.”
The runners will leave campus at 5 a.m. Nov. 23. Community members are encouraged to cheer on the cadets along the way until they reach their destination in Calhoun City by midday.