Monthly Archives: October 2013

Match Report: Homecoming Football Game

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So we pick the action up at the tailgating party. After coming to the realisation that a tailgate party pretty much consists of people getting drunk in a car park, I sought an escape. I wanted to see how ‘American Football’  – or ‘Grid Iron’ – stacked up against rugby or Aussie Rules Football so I put down my red plastic beer cup and headed for the real game.

My entrance through the gates presented another awkward moment involving ID checks. Only this one went slightly differently to the one I described in the ‘Can I See Your ID? post. As I had a student ticket, I had to pass through the student entrance.

Ticket checker:          This is the student entrance.

Me:                            I know

Ticket checker:          Are you a student?

Me:                            Yes

Ticket checker:          Are you sure?

Me:                            Yes I am sure.

Ticket checker:          Can I see your student ID?

Me:                            Yes. (I hand it over.)

Ticket checker:          (Looks at it, hands it back sheepishly).

                                  I was just kidding! In you go.

Me:                             No you weren’t.

I brushed it off and entered. It was over two hours since kick off but the game was still in the second quarter. But we hadn’t actually missed anything.

Think of every cliché relating to American Football that you can. That’s exactly what lay before me. Cheerleaders. Dancers. Bleachers. Match statistics. Slow-motion replays. Over-enthusiastic ground announcer. Marching band. Flag-waving-baton-twirlers. Gatorade buckets. Kiss Cam. Dance Cam. Sidelines full of helmeted-padded-lycra-clad players itching to take the field. And 6400 yd² of luminous green turf.

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I was grateful for all these distractions because the game was a little hard to follow.  It went like this. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Kick. Throw. Stop. Referee’s announcement. Stop. Start. And so on. And on. And on.

One major difference in spectator behaviour was how the students responded when the visiting team had possession and were making an important play. Rather than simply ‘boo’ the opposition, everyone got out their key chains and jangled their keys. It must have terrified the opposition.

Half-time was all about the marching band. You can hear them here. And because it was homecoming weekend, they invited back alumni who had been part of the band to perform once more. But it wasn’t just former band members getting in on the action. On the sidelines was a group of middle-aged alumni cheerleaders  – pom-poms in hand – and when the flag waving girls marched out they too were accompanied by alumni. These former students were truly living up to the alumni motto: Students Today. Huskies Forever.™

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I wish I could tell you more about the the game, but I just wasn’t enthralled. Give me a leaping AFL forward, a soccer striker on the penalty spot, or a rugby winger on a chip-and-chase any day. At least you can tell what they look like off the field. In their playing uniforms the American Football players remind me of the little kids in ski school lessons – all suits and helmets and identified only by a shirt number.

Once all the starting and stopping, and stopping and started was done, just 4 ½ hours after kick off, we lost 13-10. It seems our key chains weren’t scary enough.

PS: Five fun facts about American College Football

  • There are 52 players suited up to play on game day.
  • There are 105 players in the actual team.
  • They have 12 coaches.
  • The head coach is highest paid public servant in the state.
  • Every time possession changes (say from offense to defense) they sub on an entire new team. There is no such thing as an all-rounder.

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Homecoming football match?

Humans vs Zombies fun run?

Campus critters and creatures: a walk through local wildlife?

Photo essay on autumn leaves?

Homecoming exposed

After the deluge of water through the apartment and temporary relocation, a visitor from Australia, two trips to Boston, and a whole lot of study, I got kind of side tracked these past few weeks. So here are my well overdue thoughts on ‘homecoming’ week. What on earth is it all about?

Wikipedia says…

Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back alumni of a school. It most commonly refers to a tradition in many universities, colleges and high schools in the United States. It usually includes activities for students and alumni, such as sports and culture events and a parade through the streets of the city or town.

But in the interests of thorough research, after all I am an ‘academic researcher’ now, I sought out out a few additional sources.

Female student 1: It’s when we celebrate school spirit.

Female student 2: It’s when the alumni all come back to tailgate.

Now while these responses helped me get my head around homecoming, it was this male student’s answer that lead to my ‘ah-ha’ moment.

Male student: It’s when we invite a school who is worse than us at football to play a match, so we can beat them and then celebrate how awesome we are.

The beauty of this last observation is that, for the second year running mind you, we lost the homecoming football match. We couldn’t even topple the ‘easy-beat’ school. But don’t truck in the counsellors just yet. Thankfully our institutional self-confidence gets a healthy booster from our basketball teams.

Basketball

Across homecoming week, here is what I saw, heard and avoided.

The 2013 homecoming theme. Apparently every party needs a theme over here.

It Takes Two logo

This photo, which appears on the university’s homecoming webpage, reflects what they want you to think the homecoming parade looks like.

Uni parade photo

But it actually looked like this. The ratio of performers to spectators was about 25:1

parade in the rain 2

While I wandered past the parade, and I went to the homecoming tailgate party and football match, there was also a whole range of associated homecoming events that I missed. These  included:

  • Banner competition
  • The Lip Sync competition
  • Car Chalking
  • Royalty Pageant & Alma Mater Sing

In researching this blog, I came across the rules for each of these ‘competitions’ and I was amazed at the level of detail. Homecoming events here have a highly regulated series of competition rules and guidelines. I guess in this litigious society you can never be too careful. Someone may fall over, or the wrong frat house may mistakenly get the lip sync trophy on their mantle for the next 12 months. And don’t even get me started on the trouble that could brew if Jenna misses out on the Homecoming Royalty Court finals.

So to return to the question: what is homecoming all about?

A chance for undergraduates to dress up, sing, dance, parade and generally have fun celebrating their youth and awesomeness.

A chance for the Greek Life students* to prove their superiority over other Greek Life students.

But really, homecoming is simply a really long pre-match show for the football team.

 

*the alpha, gamma, epsilon folk for those of you who haven’t read this blog with a fine-tooth comb.

 

The 2013 homecoming results

And the Winners Are…

Greek Organizations

1st Place: Alpha Epsilon Phi, Beta Theta Pi, Tau Kappa Epsilon

2nd Place: Delta Zeta, Sigma Chi

3rd Place: Kappa Kappa Gamma, Alpha Delta Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon

 

Fee-Funded/Cultural Centers

1st Place: Asian American Cultural Center

2nd Place: African American Cultural Center

3rd Place: UConn Marching Band, Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma

 

Non Fee-Funded Organizations

1st Place: UConn Irish

2nd Place: Global House

3rd Place: Student Alumni Association

A Beginner’s Guide to Tailgating

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“A tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating, which originated in the United States, often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts. People attending such a party are said to be tailgating.” Wikipedia Tailgate Party

It was with trepidation that I agreed to attend the pre-homecoming game tailgate with one of my roomies and her friends. I knew there would be food and alcohol. I had been warned to not to wear any good shoes. Other than that, the sole source of my knowledge on tailgating came from this scene in the movie The Silver Linings Playbook. As someone who prefers to drink in local pubs, smart restaurants, or small wine bars, I knew that this would be an out-of-my-comfort-zone activity. Especially considering that I was taking a ride with others and therefore had no control over when I could leave.

When I first agreed to go, I thought that tailgating was a minor addition to the main event of the day – an afternoon football match. Little did I realise that the tailgate party was actually the main event. The match started at midday, and I was told to be ready by 8:30. AM. In the morning. So we would have plenty of time to tailgate. At this revelation, I nearly backed out of the outing. But the ‘big game’ was on the list of things I must do while in America, so I sucked it up and tagged along.

Things I learned / observed:

  • Tailgating is for everyone: undergraduates, graduates, alumni, families with babies / children / teenagers, older people, even supporters of the opposition.
  • Each parking lot had a different category of tailgaters divided according to age (students or alumni) and vehicle (cars, RVs*, buses and U-Haul trucks). As you walked from one to parking lot another, the number of people, the types of cars, the music blaring, the games being played and the set up was distinctly different.
  • The more elaborate set ups included couches, had separate tables for food and beer pong, and ladders to climb and sit on top of their buses or truck.
  • The undergraduate students travel from the campus to the field in a convoy of a dozen yellow school buses. They then trek across the fields to join in the tailgates hosted by the fraternity and sorority houses.
  • Many people just come to the field to tailgate, and then go home without bothering to enter the stadium. A bit like going to the Melbourne Cup and never laying eyes on a horse.

Tailgate packing list

  • Picnic table, fold out chairs, cooler, banners and flags (Go school!).
  • A cooler and ice for drinks
  • Red plastic cups (naturally)
  • Chips and salsa, pulled pork, coleslaw, burgers, cheese, and meat for grilling
  • Soda, beer, beer and more beer.
  • Game ticket (only if you want to leave the carpark)

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Alumni playing ‘Cornhole’

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Students playing ‘stump’

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Graduate students playing ‘beer pong

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Tossing the football around.

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Fraternity and Sorority students playing something with a carton of eggs and a whole lot of beer.

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Every single section of grass surrounding the stadium was filled with tailgaters.

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Going beyond simply wearing a school t-shirt or cap…

PS: Evacuation is over.

Thanks for your sympathetic responses to my last post. We have now been returned to our apartment which the Res Life staff had dried, cleaned, painted and restored to a better than original condition. In a happy coincidence of perfect timing, my personal shoe salesman from NYC rang on Tuesday to tell me about a special one day sale on boots this week… I wonder if he follows the blog???

Evacuated.

Water droplet

Sunday, 8am.

I wake to the sound of dripping water. I look outside. It’s raining. I roll over and close my eyes. I love morning rain on a Sunday.

But the dripping is getting louder. And I realize it is coming from inside the apartment. I open the door to find one roomie relocating the trash can* under the leak, and another is in my wake emerging from her bedroom to the same scene.

There is a leak in the ceiling from the sprinkler system in the kitchen. And one outside the pantry. And another in maintenance cupboard which is locked and we can’t get to it. And one behind the paint in the hallway, which creates this fascinating bubble inside the paint membrane. The kitchen and laundry floors are flooded. The carpet is wet and creeping silently outwards into the living room and bedrooms.

Roomie 1 has already called the Front Desk and they are sending someone. 10 minutes pass. We call again. Yes, they say, we already noted this. 10 more minutes pass. No one comes. The dripping is getting worse and now resembles a steady stream. Uniform lines of droplets and damp patches are forming along the ceiling. I call The Front Desk again. Yes they say, we called the fire department. 10 more minutes pass. No one comes. I call the Fire Dept. Someone is one the way.

Outside in the carpark, a lone Fire Department pick up truck pulls up. A sole fireman walks in.  He has only seen half the damage when he says: Oh man, they didn’t say it was this bad! This is a major hazard.

No kidding.

After 40 minutes of waiting, and calling, and bailing out the buckets, pots and pans, finally someone listened to us when we said it was ‘serious’.

An army of personnel – fire department workers, plumbers, electricians, residential hall assistants, the hall directors, cleaners and nosey neighbours – descends upon the apartment. Finally some action.

Sunday, 10am.

Due to the smell, the damp, and the absence of electricity we can’t stay here.  The RAs (Residential Assistants) have taken over.

We are told to pack our bags. We will be relocated on campus.

Where to? They don’t know. For how long? They can’t say. Do we need to take linen and towels? They’re not sure. Will we be placed with other graduates? Hopefully, but not definitely.

To complicate things, I have my first visitor arriving tomorrow to stay with me. A cousin from Australia. After making her dinner, I had planned to put her in my bed while I slept on the couch in the living room. Now I have no bed, no couch and no kitchen.

Sunday 12pm

All the food we bought yesterday is slowly going off in the refrigerator. And the leaks have spread to the pantry, so we salvage what we can.

I go outside to tell one of the RAs she needs to arrange dining hall passes so we can eat. I catch her unloading on the phone to her Dad. She is 21 and way out of her depth managing this situation.

Returning to my packing I discover the leaks have spread to a corner of my wardrobe. Goodbye favourite pair of suede boots.

Sunday 2pm

After a very calm response to the initial situation, my patience is gone. You mess with my shoes, you mess with me. I have hours of work to do and no way of doing it. I can’t study as there is no power and no light. I can’t walk to the library as it is raining. I can’t get a shuttle bus to the library as they don’t run on Sundays. I really, really wish I had a car.

We get news that the other apartments above us are just as damaged. The leak appears to have come from a faulty toilet on the third floor. Apparently the tenants had reported this three times in six weeks, and only once had a plumber  checked it out. An expensive consequence of lazy maintenance.

Sunday 4pm

Good news. We have been allocated new rooms. Bad news. We roomies are being split up. Just when I had settled in to living with these girls, we are being separated.

My temporary apartment is a single room on the opposite side of campus. It has a kitchen, an armchair and a private bathroom. The bonus is that it has a spare bed for my visiting cousin. Things are looking up.

Sunday 6pm

I get my first taste of a college dining hall. South Campus. This is nothing special to the other roomies who all lived in residential colleges for their undergrad degrees, but to me it is fascinating. The dynamics of the groups of students, nearly all undergraduates, laughing, flirting, and conforming with each other makes for great people watching.

There is a huge variety of food to choose from. And it is all-you-can-eat. Suddenly I understand the phrase ‘the Freshman 15’. Who wouldn’t gain 15 pounds when you can eat all you want, all day long, every day of the academic year?

Best of all I don’t have to cook, and I don’t have to clean up. We just have to place our trays on this mechanized contraption that works like a luggage carousel in reverse. You place your tray with dirty dishes, cutlery and glass onto the rotating shelves and they disappear around a hidden corner where I imagine an efficient contingent of tiny elves are scraping, washing, drying the dishes and loading them onto those spring loaded dish trolleys ready for the next meal.

Sunday 10pm

Roomies are staying in touch via text messages. Two of them went to a friend’s house to watch a prime time TV show as our new rooms don’t have a TV and, after all, it is fall premiere season. We agree to meet up for dinner tomorrow and swap stories. For someone who is so used to living alone, I find I am missing my on-campus family.

Lights out.

Kitchen

Before it really got bad.

Water under paint

Water in the walls.

Pantry

Found at the bottom of the pantry.

Packed up

Packed to relocate.