California watch party leads new Jayhawk to Lawrence

Posted on Dec 18, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Davis Rach attends a California watch party in Orange County

While many University of Kansas alumni head to local game watch parties to feel like they’re back home in Lawrence, one family came to see if Lawrence was home.

Curtis Rach of Orange County, California, says he always pushed his kids to explore things outside of their home state. So when his son Davis was choosing a college, he had narrowed it down to two choices: follow his twin brother to Auburn, or strike out on his own at KU. To help him make the decision, Curtis took Davis to a local watch party for KU’s tournament game against Purdue last season.

Rach reached out to Ramy Rahman, b’09, Orange County Network leader, beforehand and told him about his plans. When he arrived at the watch party with Davis, they both were more than impressed with the hospitality.

“When people at the event heard he was thinking about KU, they all came up, introduced themselves, and told us stories about their experience at KU,” Rach said.

Both alumni and current students on spring break took time to meet Davis and his father. “What helped with the decision for him was how warm and inviting everyone was, and that they were so passionate about KU,” Rach explained.

The camaraderie and excitement of KU watch parties may have surprised the Rach family, but Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, knows it well.

“The goal of watch parties is to provide a venue in which alumni can gather and feel like they’re back on campus for a big game,” Woods said. “When you graduate you’re still yearning for that experience. ”

He added that watch parties are like the “front porch” of KU alumni events. “They are often the first alumni gathering that people attend, and it opens the door for them to attend other events in their area.”

Davis carried through on his promise and is now a freshman at KU.

-Ryan Camenzind

Interested in finding a watch party near you? Visit our website for a list of watch sites by state, and check out the online calendar for official watch parties organized by alumni networks.

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Jayhawks celebrate rare solar eclipse

Posted on Aug 22, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

On August 21, Lawrence and the University of Kansas campus were in the path of a rare solar eclipse. Estimates indicated that 99.3% of the sun would be blocked by the moon; however, cloudy conditions in Lawrence obstructed the view of the eclipse for most residents. We reached out to Jayhawks around the country to see how they celebrated the eclipse. Here are a few of their stories and photos. Enjoy!

Larry Stoppel, c’73
Optometrist, Drs. Stoppel & Brown, Optometrists, and Flint Hills Network volunteer

Nancy Stoppel, d'73, and Larry Stoppel, c'73, prepare for the solar eclipse. Photo courtesy of Larry Stoppel.Larry Stoppel and his wife Nancy, d’73, headed to northeastern Washington County and waited at the Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Cemetery for the solar eclipse. The cemetery is in Lanham, a community that sits on the state line between Kansas and Nebraska.

“The temperature dropped and it was very dark,” according to Nancy. “Looking at the sun when it was in totality was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Words can not describe it.”

Larry added that “the solar eclipse was AWESOME, but hard to photograph. I like this short video time lapse that runs from 10 minutes before, during totality and 10 minutes after.”

Watch Larry’s time-lapse video below:


Ramy Rahman, b’09
Security Engineer, Optiv Security, and Orange County Network leader

The week before the eclipse I was swamped with work and didn’t have very much time to plan, but I hopped on Amazon to find the most inexpensive solar filter possible for my camera. I found a 4×4 solar filter sheet, cut it to the diameter of my 70-300 mm telephoto lens, and affixed a UV filter so it would stay on during shooting.

The day of the eclipse I had quite a few conference calls to run, emails to answer and work, work, work but I wasn’t going to let that prevent me from capturing the eclipse. Around 9:05 a.m. (PT) I went outside to set up my Canon 6D camera and check out where the sun was going to be.

Initially we had some cloud coverage in Costa Mesa, but it eventually cleared and I was able to focus on the sun within a matter of minutes. I have a custom firmware installed that allows me to automate shooting with the built-in intervalometer which shot a 1/100th of a second exposure every 10 seconds with an f5.6 aperture and ISO set to 100.

I left the camera shooting right outside my office window and between work emails and calls, I went outside to reposition the camera to account for the movement of the sun out of frame.  Eventually, around 11:49, I had captured about 856 shots of the entire event. Every shot was pretty clear considering we had no cloud coverage in SoCal that day—shocker, I know.

During my lunch break I downloaded the shots and began to post on Facebook.  Here is the beginning of eclipse:

2017 Solar Eclipse. Photo courtesy of Ramy Rahman.

Then I went back to work and as the day was winding down, I discovered I had enough shots to do a progression. I took shots from 10-minute intervals of the event and compiled this:

2017 Solar Eclipse progression. Photo compilation courtesy of Ramy Rahman.

Thomas Wall, g’11
Owner/Architect, Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design

Thomas Wall, owner/architect of Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design in St. LouisMitchell Wall Architecture & Design in St. Louis was the location of a little-known KU alumni eclipse watch party. With over half my staff being graduates, pretty much every day is.

My wife, Megan (Lowdermilk) Wall, d’97, joined us about 11:15 a.m. and I got to work setting up my late father’s telescope. After much fiddling, focusing, adjusting, and focusing again, I managed to get the telescope focused on the sun (with a filter of course) and my camera attached to it.

By noon, everyone in the office was coming in and out in a constant parade. I don’t think any work got done for about 90 minutes.

But soon the moon started taking a sizable bite out of the sun, and we all stood together outside looking up at the sky. I haven’t seen this many Jayhawks looking at an orange ball since Mario’s Miracle. And when the sky got dark, and the birds stopped chirping and the crickets started, we all exclaimed at the same time. Seeing the green and gold and red and purple shooting from the sun as totality was reached was a site to behold. It was truly an amazing experience.

2017 Solar Eclipse. Photo courtesy of Thomas Wall.

2017 Solar Eclipse. Photo courtesy of Thomas Wall.

Photos shot with a Canon 6D using a Celestron C5 telescope as a lens.

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West coast swing

Posted on Aug 8, 2013 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Danny Lewis, director of alumni programs, and Brad Eland, director of academic programs, are in the midst of a 11-day west coast swing visiting alumni and hosting events in California, Oregon and Washington.

Last weekend, they boarded a bus headed for the northern California wine country with 30 of their closest Jayhawk friends in San Francisco. It’s probably no surprise that this popular annual event sells out every year.

The day included stops at the Folie a Deux, V. Sattui, Sutter Home and Domaine Chandon wineries, where the KU group enjoyed tastings, tours and lunch before returning to the city.

Click here to see pictures from the event, or watch the slideshow below:

On Sunday, Danny and Brad hosted a reception for Los Angeles-area alumni, fans and friends at the King Harbor Yacht Club in Redondo Beach. Although the day was overcast, a great group of Jayhawks showed up to hear about happenings on the Hill.

It’s not all work and no play for our staff members though– chapter leader April Pitcairn, j’76, took Danny and Brad out on the water one day during their visit. (Click here for a picture.)

Photos from the Los Angeles reception are available here, or watch the slideshow below:

Other events on the west coast have included a reception in Phoenix and KU Night at Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, Calif. Tonight, Jayhawks in the Orange County area will gather for an event at Ocean Avenue Brewery, and the rest of the week’s activities include a wine tasting at Tagaris Winery in southeastern Washington, a reception in Portland and a picnic in Seattle at the home of Christine, d’96 and Tom Malchow.

If you live near any of these areas, please join us! And if you aren’t receiving our email invitations to events in your area, be sure to register on our website and make sure your alumni profile information is current.

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