Once upon a time, at a University of Miami without SportsFest, there was an annual competition called “Budweiser Super Sports” where students could compete in sports and athletic events for gifts and prizes, among them free beer at the Rat. Student organizations and individuals would register teams and, according to old yearbooks, the event was fairly popular.
Administrators Norm Parsons and Rhonda DuBord decided to make this sports competition a bigger part of student life, and so began the legacy of SportsFest.
When Hecht and Stanford were built in 1968 they were named ‘68 and 960, the former for its construction year and the latter for how many beds it held. In the 1985-86 academic year, the residential colleges changed their names and ‘68 became known as “The Honors Residential College” and 960 known as “The Residential College.” SportsFest was started in the spring of 1986 as a challenge between the two almost identical counterparts. These two teams, over time, would come to be named Stanford and Hecht.
Our own Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Patricia Whitely, was a Residence Coordinator in The Residential College (‘68, Stanford) the year SportsFest began. After that year, the program added Eaton as a competitor and then Mahoney and then Pearson to round out a 5-team, school-wide event by the spring of 1989.
Today, there is no bigger student event on the University of Miami’s campus than SportsFest, boasting over 2,300 participants.
“Nobody could have predicted the success of SportsFest, but the residential college system is one of the reasons that it has been so successful,” Whitely said. “It is a great opportunity for students to build community.”
Parsons and DuBord are largely responsible for the success that the event has had over the years and they are both still a part of the team that organizes the event today.
“Participation is essential; with this scoring system, any residential college can win,” Parsons said.
Tom Soria is the assistant director of intramurals and special events and the logistical mastermind behind the competition. Organizing an event with so many activities, participants and referees may seem like a mountain of a task, but according to Tom it’s “like seeing a masterpiece at work, almost like a symphony.”
Calvin Cestari may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.