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Alumni Highlight - Charlie Charger '69

Alumni Highlight - Charlie Charger '69

Who is Charlie the Charger? 
Joel Meng | The Collegian

For the first time, someone has told the story of Charlie Charger.

The college bookstore announced freshman Cal McNellie as the winner of the competition to tell the life story of Charlie Charger. Senior Mary Dorroh took second, and sophomore Jacob Damec took third. The official biography of Charlie Charger can be read on Charlie’s page on the Hillsdale Chargers’ website.

Gwendolyn Buchhop ’11, community relations coordinator for the Hillsdale Athletics Department, initially came up with the idea.

“I wanted to add a little more dimension so that when people see Charlie they have a story in mind,” Buchhop said. “If the winner was a student or maybe a faculty member, not part of the athletics department, it would help people to think, ‘I’m a Charger. I may not put on a uniform every weekend, but I’m a Charger.’”

Buchhop took her idea to Ashlynn Landherr ’16 and Hank Prim ’17 in the student activities office who helped set up a partnership with the bookstore for prizes and publicity.

“It’s a way to do a campus-wide event,” Landherr said. The bookstore pushed the message to students through posters around campus as well as emails.

“We just love to support the campus community and we’re thrilled to help however we can,” said Angie Berry, trade book coordinator.

The top three contestants found out about the contest through the bookstore’s advertising and crafted their stories in different ways.

“I was inspired by Johnny Cash’s song ‘A Ragged Old Flag’,” third-place winner Damec said. “I conceived of Charlie as an American war hero who takes down people who don’t like America.”

Damec said he feels a close connection to Charlie.

“I feel there’s a combining of souls when I see Charlie on the football field,” Damec said. “We share a bond of love for America”

Second place winner Dorroh wrote her entry at 2:30 a.m. while listening to The Strokes. In her piece, Charlie searched the world to find the peppiest pep band and ends up at Hillsdale College.

“I wanted to write something that celebrated the pep band,” Dorroh said. “We’re at every game, and while we’re not athletes, we’re special. Sometimes not many people besides the pep band, cheerleading squad, and Charlie show up.”

McNellie wrote the tale of Charlie Charger as a poem.

“I grew up reading Dr. Seuss as a kid and started writing my own poetry in the fourth grade,” McNellie said. “It’s what I’m most comfortable with.”

Charlie’s official biography tells of a colt who excelled at running, but sought more in life, deciding to pursue beauty and truth at Hillsdale College.

“Charlie is a regular horse trying to find his way in the world and has a crisis of who he is,” McNellie said. “What’s important to him is Hillsdale College. This may be a metaphor for other students.”

McNellie crafted the story shortly before the deadline and with the help of his friend, freshman Drew Rubick, who edited it.

“When I heard I won, I was pretty excited. It’s cool to see my name on the website,” McNellie said. McNellie plans to use the prize to buy a scarf for his girlfriend.

For people interested in the history of our school’s mascot, McNellie has presented an answer. Perhaps students can draw inspiration from Charlie’s tale.

“Charlie will always support his Chargers — lose, draw, tie, or win,” McNellie writes. “For it matters not the scoreboard, what matters is within.”

Charlie Charger by Cal McNellie