The Freshman Fifteen we all want


Daily file illustration by Jacob Fulton

Freshman Fifteen is made of more than 15 people, not all of whom are freshmen.

Virginia Hunt, Reporter

Did you see anyone army-crawling and hiding in bushes earlier this quarter? It may have been a capella singers from Freshman Fifteen waiting to serenade their new members.

Twenty-five years ago, F15’s founders participated in the annual swarm of a capella auditions — and were rejected from all the groups. Their passion couldn’t be thwarted, though. They decided to create their own group and name themselves after “what nobody wants”: the freshman fifteen, a derogatory phrase popularized by diet culture about weight gain during college. 

Since then, the group has become popular on campus for its joy, enthusiastic performances and iconic bowling shirts.

Communication sophomore Caroline Drapeau said when she first saw F15 perform at Rock the Lake last year, it struck her as a group that was having fun. 

A year later, Drapeau said she can’t imagine her life without the ensemble.

“Freshman Fifteen is the group for people who love to make music for the joy of making music, with people who care equally as much about singing as they do about laughing, caring and supporting each other,” she said.

Last fall, Drapeau participated in the first audition cycle that allowed non-male identifying people to audition for the group. F15 used to be an all-male acapella group, but members decided to make a change after conversations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Member Andrew Opel, a McCormick junior, said F15’s choice to accept individuals of diverse gender identities was ultimately intended to create a more inclusive space. A close friend of the group, who is not male-identifying, expressed how much they wished they could’ve been a part of F15. Multiple members also felt they valued having the person in their community, so the group decided it was time to include members of different gender identities, Opel said. 

“We were considering, ‘How do we navigate this in a safe and healthy way?’ Not only for us, but for any new members as well,” Opel said of the transition.

F15’s care for one another is what makes the pop-ensemble a family above all else, Drapeau said. The group conducts check-ins at the start of every rehearsal, along with organizing a yearly “breakdown” arrangement that seeks to feature each member.

The group performs quarterly concerts, and its Spotify account features six albums produced by F15, ranging from country to hip hop. Opel said he and his fellow members hope listeners attend live shows, though, to see what he calls “the wackiest a capella group on campus.” 

F15 is full of surprises, and members prefer it that way, he added. 

“If you watch our performances, we sprint onstage, hooting and hollering, maybe a cartwheel or two,” Opel said. “We just want to get the audience excited because we’re excited.” 

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