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September 15, 2013

Corporate clash

Office workers spend the day battling each other in a different arena in annual outdoor event

TERRE HAUTE — Hundreds of Terre Haute professionals rolled up their pants, took off their shoes and socks and ran through a series of kiddie pools Saturday morning in the fun-filled competition known as the First Financial Bank Corporate Olympics.

More than 30 teams competed in the 33rd Corporate Olympic games, which included a wide variety of colorful and original competitions, including “pass the eggs,” “beach ball squeeze,” “parachute volleyball” and the “sobriety challenge.”

“It was cold!” answered Blair Foxworthy of the Fox Canteen team, when asked what she thought of the beach ball squeeze. She had just completed the challenge, which required a pair of teammates to press and hold a beach ball between them without using their hands and run through a series of kiddie pools full of icy water.

It was sunny with temperatures in the 50s around 10 a.m. when the games began at the First Financial-owned “Forest Park” in northeastern Vigo County. Conditions were ideal, unless you were running through cold water.

“We’re having a blast,” said Eric Michaels, another member of the Fox Canteen squad. Like other members of the team, he has competed in past Corporate Olympic games, though not for the Fox Canteen team.

“You have to work together to complete any of the challenges,” added Pamela Pahnke, another competitor.

The goal of the 2013 games is to encourage team building within area businesses and organizations, said Sally Whitehurst of First Financial. Each year, the games take on a different theme.

Last year, teams faced more strenuous challenges, including a lot of climbing, according to experienced competitors. This year, the focus was on working as a group.

“I don’t think I’m going to be as sore this year,” said Katrina Pender, a competitor with the blue-T-shirted Terre Haute Regional Hospital team.

In addition to their scores on different events, team “uniforms” were part of the competition. Many teams wore brightly-colored T-shirts with matching logos. Teams were also judged on the entrance they made in their team vehicles.

“We’re rockin’ it!” said Charles Walls, a member of the Rose-Hulman team, which recorded one of the best times in the beach ball squeeze competition. The Rose squad has taken first place in the past, he said. Last year the team finished third in the games behind DuPont and the Vigo County School Corp.

Not to be outdone, members of the Union Hospital team were also talking a little trash.

All of the other teams are just “competing for second place,” joked Cory Kester, a member of the Union Hospital team, which also has a history of top finishes.

Music, beer and hamburgers were also part of the day, which was clearly more about fun and team building than fierce competition.

“We’re all from different departments” within Regional Hospital, said Hannah Kinnett noting the team-building aspect of the games. “It’s going really well. We’re all working together.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@trib star.com.

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