June 23, 2024

High-Fives for Hurley

UMW freshman Taylor O’Dell can still see it clearly. It’s not so much the black car that pops in her elementary school memory, it’s the man who’s pulling it – with his eyelids.

“Why would you ever think to do something like that?” said O’Dell, who, like so many generations, found excitement and intrigue between the covers of Guinness World Records books. “It’s all the crazy records, like this [High Five Hurley] one, which is cool, that stand out,” she said.

O’Dell and bestie, fellow freshman Marleigh Eure, joined a crowd of about 500 who turned out last week in hopes of breaking the world record for the most pairs of jumping high-fives performed simultaneously. The attempt, held Wednesday at the Anderson Center to celebrate UMW’s ninth president, Richard V. Hurley, who will retire in June, fell short, though more than 1,000 had registered. But what the event lacked in numbers, it made up for in spirit.

Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer). Simultaneous jumping high five, Guinness World Record attempt, at UMW Wednesday April 13, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

Photo credit: Norm Shafer

During his six-year tenure, Hurley’s approachable persona – and the high-fives he hands out along Campus Walk – have helped him build a unique rapport with Mary Washington students. The trademark gesture found its way to Commencement, where Hurley greets many graduating seniors with high-fives instead of handshakes.

To honor the man and his signature move, UMW faculty, staff, alumni, friends and students piled into the Anderson Center’s Ron Rosner Arena. When official Guinness World Records Judge Michael Empric announced that the attempt had failed, the disappointment was palpable. But the tribute still stood.

“Setting a new world record was really secondary to the doing of it,” said Vice President for University Advancement Torre Meringolo. “The UMW community and its extended family of alumni, friends and neighbors were all united in a common pursuit of a distinctive Hurley custom … and it was beautiful to watch.”

Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw and Chief of Police David Nye were among a host of community members to turn out for the event, along with representatives from local news outlets, such as radio station WFVA, The Free Lance-Star and Fox 5 News.

Hosts Cedric Rucker, dean of Student Life, and senior Mikey Barnes, former Mr. UMW, entertained the crowd with commentary, trivia and video clips, including one where students took stabs at Hurley’s plans for retirement – skateboarding, pro-wrestling, becoming a Jedi. Blackstone Coffee, Sugar Shack Donuts and Home Team Grill donated prize giveaways.

“It’s on my bucket list,” UMW Director of Financial Aid Heidi Hunter-Goldsworthy said of breaking a world record the day of the event. She remembered being intrigued by titles that involved chewing gum, pogo sticks and all the “wild things that people were willing to do to set a record.”

At the end of the day, the record for simultaneous jumping high-fives, set by Transport for London last June, still stands at 432 pairs. But the Mary Washington community had fun trying to break it.

“I felt so honored that so many people from throughout the community came out to participate,” Hurley said. “There was a very positive buzz in the arena and I think everyone had fun despite not breaking the record; I know Rose and I did!”