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Phi Beta Sigma step show taught me teamwork, brotherhood and hard work

Until you have to put in the work, you can’t ever really know how hard it is

At many colleges and universities across the country, the “Divine Nine” — nine historically black Greek-letter organizations, or BGLOs, that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council — bring both a vibrant atmosphere and one-of-a-kind experiences to their campuses.

As a spring 2017 initiate of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Alpha Chapter, my fraternity brothers and I, along with the other BGLOs, had the chance to showcase our best steps on my campus of Howard University during the 2017 Howard Homecoming ICONIC Greek Step Show in Cramton Auditorium on Oct. 20.

This annual high-stepping show is one of the most highlighted events during Howard Homecoming Stepping, as stepping has grown to become a well-known feature of black Greek life. This year, the step show was hosted by actor and television personality Terrence J, an alumnus of North Carolina A&T State University and a spring 2004 initiate of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Mu Psi Chapter.

For many of us, this was our first time performing a step show on stage. I have to admit that for someone who’d never stepped a day in my life, it was a bit nerve-wracking thinking about performing in front of an audience and hoping not to mess up too bad. For about two months before the show, we practiced day in and day out in basements and late nights outside, preparing for those final eight minutes of performance.

Jahwon Corbett, a spring 2016 initiate of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Gamma Lambda Chapter, who stepped with my chapter, said it was very exciting for him to step for the first time.

Actor and television personality Terrence J hosted the Howard homecoming step show.

Photo by Kuntumie Fadika

“Having been my first time stepping in a show, I felt the pressure to succeed over failing,” said Corbett, a senior English major at the University of the District of Columbia. “But after a while I found out that while the work was hard, it was worth it, and I can’t wait to hit the stage again.”

Bakare Awakoaiye, a spring 2017 initiate and first vice president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Alpha Chapter, said the process of preparing for the show was stressful but rewarding once all the hard work culminated on stage.

“It’s always different to go on stage and see all these people in front of you,” said Awakoaiye, a senior biology major who served as Phi Beta Sigma’s step show coordinator. “But the more you practice, the less you have to think about everything, and it comes more naturally. The end product of everything made it worthwhile … those eight minutes are worth it.”

Chase Shields, a fall 2008 initiate of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Beta Beta Theta Chapter, who stepped with my chapter, has been stepping since 2001 before becoming a member of Phi Beta Sigma. Shields said he enjoys being on stage with other fraternity brothers who are stepping for the first time to see what kind of show they put on in the moment.

“Even though we’re doing all this work and grinding for all these months, those minutes are nothing I’d ever trade for because they’re just great,” said Shields.

Overall, the teamwork and bonding through stepping with my fraternity brothers for the past couple of months was something that I will deeply cherish. Being a part of a BGLO is more than just wearing letters on your chest. In Phi Beta Sigma, my fraternity helps promote the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship and service.

Through stepping, it is great to not only represent our fraternity but to also honor our ancestors in Africa through movement, words and sounds with our entire being.

Paul Holston journalism major from Summerville, SC. He attends Howard University and served as 2016-17 editor-in-chief of The Hilltop.