Place item was collected
Athletics Academic Complex, Logan, Utah
Amber Rae Childers
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
Amber Rae Childers, often referred to as simply Amber Rae or A-Rae, is the assistant director for student athlete academic services at Utah State University. She works specifically with student athlete development including leadership development, professional development, and community service. She has worked at USU for seven and a half years and attended the SAMs training where this game takes place seven times. Amber Rae is known for her extreme organization and compassion for the people she works with. She spends huge amounts of time outside of work hours supporting and helping student athletes.
I interviewed Amber Rae in her office on the top floor of the Athletics Academic Complex. Her office is very organized, with cupboards labeled with sticky notes and stacks of binders everywhere. We know each other well as I have been a SAMs leader over the past year, so the interview was quick and to the point. SAMs stands for Student Athlete Mentor. The SAMs are a group of older student athletes who apply to be mentors and help teach a class to freshman student athletes. They are from all sports and classes, and the group consists of men and women. Every spring semester after the SAMs have been selected they attend a training at the university-owned Bear Lake Training Center. Bear Lake is about forty-five minutes north of Logan and this training facility is used by various USU teams and clubs. The Training Center sits right on the edge of the water by the lake. It is well kept, clean, but looks a little out of date and old. It is a large, two story cabin with rooms full of bunk beds on the top floor. The entire bottom floor is an open living room, and this is where the game is played and the only place it has ever been played. Ultimate Spoons is played once a year after the first day of the spring SAMs training. The game usually starts late at night, around ten or eleven and lasts about an hour. The game is played once, and ends when there is one person left with a spoon. All the SAMs who want to can participate as well as the adults who are there to help with the training including the student athlete mentor advisors such as the prevention specialist from student wellness and athletics advisors over SAMs.
Amber Rae: Yes, so it is played at the student athlete mentor spring training, um it’s a tradition that we have continued to do annually, we do it at the end of the first night of training as kind of our final, fun, competition after we’ve covered a lot of in depth information. And it’s, played similarly to spoons, um, with cards and ss—having the number of spoons minus on of the number of competitors. However the difference is that we play at the Bear Lake Training Center and we play by, hiding the spoons throughout the room um in different places um in furniture, in people’s hoodies. Places where people can’t reach. And as soon as people get—the first person gets four of a kind, everybody can jump over the couches and go try to find the spoons, [the people playing with the cards do so behind the couches so they can’t try and already be looking for the spoons] um and the one person who doesn’t find one is eliminated and it goes on and gets pretty heated and intense [laughing]
Mealii: And then after the game, someone signs something?
A: Yes so um, at the end of the game there is a spoon trophy that the winner gets to sign they put their name and their sport um, to indicate that they were the winner from that year and it’s kind of an ongoing thing to try and knock certain sports [sound of phone getting a notification] off the winning [indecipherable]
M: Isn’t volleyball currently like—
A: Volleyball has won a lot [coughing] and a lot of people want to beat volleyball especially people—we’ve had SAMs that um, like SAMs that have gotten married and whatnot and they compete the year after their spouse did and they try and knock their spouses team off.
M: [laughing] ok could you talk a little bit—you talked a little bit about it, but how people play it like the intensity the competitiveness
A: Oh um yeah. So it is fairly intense people will tackle each other shove each other um, if an innocent bystander is in the way or like a spoon is hidden in their hoodie um. Before it’s hidden they agree that they’re probably going to get pushed and shoved and people are going to be wrestling over trying to get the spoon from them out of their pocket
When I interviewed Amber Rae, she was calm, thoughtful, and professional. She knew I was doing this for a project, so she was trying to be thorough, which helped a lot. She talked quickly and concisely. The SAMs look forward to playing this game and it is a well-loved tradition. It is something to look forward to after all the work during the training. When this game is being played, as Amber Rae mentioned, the game gets intense and competitive. People are running around, shoving things, shoving people, yelling, and messing up the whole living room. However, there is a spirit of fun to the whole thing. People don’t get too upset if they lose and then they have fun joining in on hiding the rest of the spoons. The people who are out are laughing while watching the game and find a little revenge in finding the hardest spots to hide the spoons. There is also a little bit of an inter-sport rivalry. Everyone wants to win for their sport and will help team mates out if they are playing. Overall, Ultimate Spoons creates a fun atmosphere after a long day. It is also usually the start to a full night of playing games and staying up very late.
Introduction to Folklore, English 2210
Dr. Lynne S. McNeill
Semester and year
G6: Competition Games
Enos, Mealii, "Ultimate Spoons" (2017). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 137.
Additional FilesUltimate Spoons Trophy.JPG (938 kB)
This is the Ultimate Spoons Trophy. It’s a hand carved wooden spoon that people will sign in Sharpie if they win the game.