Kappa Omega Tau on a SING winning streak

Kappa Omega Tau seeks to continue its winning streak with this year's pirate-themed "Setting Sail." Photo credit: Richard Hirst

Kappa Omega Tau has placed either first or second in All-University Sing the last eight years running, a unique distinction among Baylor’s fraternities and sororities. The service-oriented fraternity was started in 1960 and is a Baylor original. The Greek letters KOT stand for Knights of Tradition, and they are certainly making a tradition of taking over Sing.

The fraternity won its first-place prizes with the shows “The Toys are Back in Town” in 2010, “Ghosts Call” in 2013 and “The Battle Within” in 2014. The fraternity’s performances “The Grand Hotel,” “Standing Small,” “The Show Must Go On,” “Steppin’ to the Badside” and “From the Bayou to the Big Easy” earned them second place the other five years.

Shreveport, La., senior Hunter Gorman, a current KOT Sing chair, said his organization’s past victories are pushing them to put in even more effort this year with thei act “Setting Sail.”

“To hear that I’m associated with an organization that has a good track record gets me excited and motivated to just work hard,” Gorman said.

While he openly expressed pride in KOT’s accomplishments, Gorman was hesitant to say that they deserved the victories more than any other group.

“I think everybody’s got a different opinion on that,” Gorman said. “Look at the work we’ve put in, look at the standard we hold ourselves to. Deserving or not, that’s how it turned out so I think that we were rewarded for the work we put in.”

KOT has beaten other frontrunners like Phi Kappa Chi, Delta Delta Delta and Pi Beta Phi in years past with their performances. Las Vegas junior Megan McDonald said she thinks their victories have been well earned.

“This last year they were OK,” McDonald said, “But the years before they were really, really good, the best there. They did this Jekyll and Hyde thing that was absolutely amazing. I went twice.”

The news that they had been in the top two rankings for eight years running did not surprise her in the least.

“Oh, I believe it,” McDonald said. “They’ve had really good choreography, and their sets are absolutely amazing. They work well together, and their singers are always really good.”

The hard work that KOT members put into Sing is apparent to other groups as well. Nashville sophomore Juliana Taylor, a member of Delta Delta Delta and a performer in this year’s Sing, said KOT members make it obvious how much effort they put into their performances.

“Whenever crowds come to watch things, they always know to look out for KOT because they have a reputation for doing very different acts each year. It really showcases their fraternity in a positive light,” Taylor said. “They are definitely competition, along with all other 20 organizations that are participating.”

However, Taylor was unwilling to focus on the competition or who would win this year, choosing instead to draw attention to the hard work of each group and the participants’ desires to perform well and do their best.

“I don’t really look at it as we’re targeting one group and we have to compare ourselves to it,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of just us showcasing ourselves and, as a Tri-Delt our most important thing is just being sharp and having everything perfect. Our competition is with ourselves. Each year we try to get better.”

Taylor did say KOT has an edge in the competition because people don’t always expect a group of guys to excel at something like Sing. She said the Broadway-like atmosphere of Sing would be more naturally associated with girls. That helps an all-male fraternity like KOT make a bigger splash when they come out and perform as well as they do.

“It’s impressive that a group of guys can put an entire Sing act together and execute it very well,” Taylor said. “No one sees it coming, especially since the judges change each year.”

Austin senior Nathan Elequin said fraternities like KOT and Alpha Tau Omega tend to bring more energy to their performances.

“I don’t know why this is, but they in general just tend to produce much more exciting performances than their female counterparts. Maybe it’s because guys are more athletic or have a greater vocal range. I don’t really know,” Elequin said.

Elequin said KOT’s performances are thrilling and powerful, and that it’s obvious when they are on stage that they love doing what they are doing.

“They are referred to as the Kings of Sing for a reason,” Elequin said.

Elequin has seen KOT twice in live performance and watched several of their older performances on video as a Line Camp leader. He said KOT epitomizes what is expected of a Sing performance.

“They did fundamentals well,” Elequin said. “I’m talking choreography, not super risky, but then, using a clever combo of props costumes and stunts, they created a few memorable moments that stood out based on the song choices that they had. That’s a good recipe for a Sing performance, and I’m not surprised that they do well because of it.”

Gorman described this year’s act, “Setting Sail,” as a combination of KOT’s old talents with a new twist.

“This year we wanted to switch it up a little bit,” Gorman said. “We wanted to pull some things from acts we’ve done in the past as far as moves and settings. We wanted to really rethink KOT and get out of the box, but at the same time not lose the fun and excitement that comes with a KOT act. I just invite audiences young and old to just sit back and enjoy the power act that we’re going to share with the world this year.”

Although he said there was going to be a pretty level playing field this weekend, Gorman wasn’t interested in theorizing about who would win Sing this year. Instead, he said KOT members are focusing on working hard and doing what God has given them the ability to do.