By Rebecca McCarthy
University of Georgia student Leigh Harris was visiting some friends at another school when they took her to a campus event, a dance competition in which sororities competed and raised money for a charity.
A big fan of dance, Leigh remembers thinking, “Why don’t we have something at UGA like this?”
She discussed the idea with her sorority sisters at Sigma Delta Tau, who loved it. Thus, SDT Greek Grind was born.
Eleven years after Harris’ idea took to the dance floor, SDT Greek Grind is still going strong — in fact, stronger than ever. This year’s event is Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the Classic Center in downtown Athens.
You can cheer for the sorority of your choice — SDT, as the host, doesn’t compete but does perform.
Hosting the evening is Josh Murray, a star of “The Bachelorette,” ex-fiancé of Jewish Atlanta native and reality TV star Andi Dorfman, and older brother of former UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. He’s following in the footsteps of Aaron’s former football teammate Chris Conley, who hosted in 2014.
Conley was a star student athlete who majored in journalism, finished school in 2014 and now is a backup wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs. Aaron Murray is the Chiefs’ third-string quarterback.
The theme of this year’s SDT Greek Grind is “Rock the Grind,” said SDT Greek Grind coordinator Rebecca Friedman.
There are changes on tap. For example, SDT Greek Grind will include an all-male act, the Accidentals, one of the many outstanding a cappella groups on campus.
The show is moving from the Classic Center Auditorium to the 3,500-seat Classic Center Arena on a stage being built for the competition. Friedman hopes that the extra seats will let more people attend the event and result in more money being raised.
Last year’s competition, in which all 17 UGA sororities participated, raised $76,000 for Prevent Child Abuse America, a national nonprofit organization that raises awareness and provides education to stop child abuse. Prevent Child Abuse America is the national philanthropy for all SDT chapters, each of which raises money for the charity.
SDT Greek Grind raises money through ticket sales — $20 for sorority members and $30 for fraternity members — raffles, T-shirt sales and donations, Friedman said. Donations have been flowing in for months. To contribute, visit sdtgreekgrind.com/donate.
The event’s creator, Harris, said sororities begin practicing their routines in August to be ready by the fall, and some teams lay out the choreography in May. Besides bragging rights as SDT Greek Grind champs, the sororities are competing for monetary donations to their own philanthropies of choice.
Fifteen percent of teams’ final scores come from spirit points, based on involvement in events led by Sigma Tau Delta, donations and other promotional programs before the show. A panel of judges determines the other 85 percent of the score based on costumes, use of the theme, performance and originality.