When the idea for the Wellesley College Hydration Enthusiasts Club (WCHEC) was first conceived, even the founders would find the support the club would one day get hard to believe. But each Tuesday evening, nearly 20 ‘Hydration Enthusiasts’ gather in a KSC classroom to compare water bottles, debate the best campus water fountains and above all, talk about their shared passion: staying hydrated.
Though the club has only been constituted since the spring, WCHEC’s backstory began nearly two years ago when a group of varsity student-athletes brought attention to a fast-approaching milestone: 100,000 water bottles filled at the first floor KSC water fountain. WCHEC’s publicity chair Clare Doyle ’20 published a Facebook event to drum up excitement around the campus about reaching the incredible milestone. When the tally read 99,999 bottles, Faye Washburn ’20 and Olivia Holbrook ’20, the org’s co-presidents, stood guard over the fountain, preventing any well-meaning hydration enthusiast from accidentally spoiling their big day.
Later that day, on Nov. 4, 2017, it came time for the 100,000th water bottle to be filled. A crowd of 60 students gathered, surprising even the organizers of the event and 13 hands held the 100,000th water bottle to be filled — one hand representing each of the Wellesley varsity athletic teams.
After the event, a smaller group gathered at brunch in Lulu, and the core behind WCHEC was born. They applied for constitution and two years later in spring 2019, the hydration enthusiasts became, officially, the Hydration Enthusiasts.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we got constituted,” says Holbrook, a founding member and co-president of WCHEC.
At their second meeting on Sept. 26, nearly 20 enthusiasts from all class years including recruits, gathered in the resting area near the famed water fountain. The group introduced themselves, going one after another sharing their names, class years, pronouns and their favorite water bottle. It seemed to come as no surprise to the Hydration Enthusiasts that the 2017-2018 Wellesley Athletics water bottle was a shared favorite amongst the group.
The org has big plans this year. Holbrook explained at the meeting that the e-board was hard at work trying to secure collaborations with different water-related companies. Co-president Washburn was spearheading an effort to collaborate with Halsey-Taylor, the company that has been providing stadiums, offices and college campuses just like Wellesley with drinking vestibules since 1912. Washburn’s progress report that week: “I have sent a number of emails that have all been bounced back.” Nevertheless she persists in emailing them.
The group spent much of their meeting brainstorming ways to give back to the community, thinking of different merchandise fundraisers that could benefit clean water initiatives around the country. A goal for the organization, aside from having fun with those who share a passion for hydration, is to spread awareness about different water issues that parts of the world faces. Tessa Spillane, head crew coach and associate professor of the practice, is the org’s faculty advisor. She says that even though she is a new advisor, she is “really excited about this org and what they hope to accomplish.”
The meeting ended with a toast to hydration, and the presidents dismissed the group to refill their water bottles at the drinking fountain. The total as of last Thursday stands at just under 140,000, and WCHEC hopes to see it reach 200,000 before the end of the year.
The ultimate mission of WCHEC is to be a place for Wellesley students to relax and have fun with each other. Doyle, WCHEC’s publicity chair, says, “I think that WCHEC can be an example in a lot of ways to the Wellesley community. Wellesley students are all so driven and passionate about our goals, academics, career plans, extracurriculars, etc. WCHEC shows that there can — and should! — be space on our campus for orgs and groups that just want to have fun and create a community for each other!”
“Bottom line: if you’re a person looking for a community, looking for a lighthearted environment — please join us,” says Holbrook. WCHEC meets every other week on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. in the KSC classroom.