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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Student Tosses Old Sneakers, Starts Potential Tradition



Nearly 20 pairs of shoes of all styles, colors and sizes currently hang among the branches of Russell Hall’s very own shoetree.
Shoetrees start with one person who tosses footwear into the air. Soon, the shoes trigger a pattern, sometimes creating a new tradition.
At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, tossing a pair of shoes tied together by the laces onto a branch marks a memorable first time on the campus. Newlywed graduates from Murray State University in Kentucky revisit their campus and nail mismatched shoes to a large tree stump for good luck.
Dalton Echard, a University of Mary Washington junior and physics major, remembers being the first to throw a pair of shoes, his worn out track sneakers, up into the tree outside of Russell.
As the shoetree’s creator, Echard continued to throw his old track shoes and even rainbow slinkies up into the branches to accompany the growing number of shoes.
“I figured maybe other people could do this too, so I wanted something colorful up there so people could see it,” Echard said.
What makes Russell’s shoetree different from most is that it is not limited to footgear. A Nintendo game controller tied to an umbrella and a set of forks wrapped together with string can be spotted from the staircase leading down to the dormitory.
“It’s like a Christmas tree up there,” said Echard.
For Echard, it is fun to see an unusual tradition blossoming at the UMW.
“There aren’t any odd traditions [here]. That’s something I’d really like this place to have,” Echard said.
One person can start a shoetree, but it takes many to carry on the tradition. It is up to the students of the UMW to keep the shoetree alive.