21st Sportsfest just around corner

From Hecht to Mahoney, dorm residents across campus are gearing up for the University’s 21st annual Sportsfest, which will be held this Friday through Sunday across the UM campus.

The team to beat this year is Hecht Residential College, which has taken home the trophy for the past four years. Plans are already under way in all the residence halls and the apartment area to ensure a victory in this year’s Sportsfest. From general strategy meetings, such as Hecht’s “Preparation Hecht” meeting, or just practicing, teams from all over campus will be sure to have their game faces on when the big weekend arrives.

Each year, a committee of students decides the events for each Sportsfest weekend. These events range from familiar games such as basketball, soccer and kickball, to more creative games such as Ultimate Frisbee and Wallyball. For students who feel that outdoor sports aren’t really their thing, the committee also designates events dubbed “couch potato sports,” which include videogame tournaments for the popular Halo and Madden games and board game tournaments featuring old favorites such as Connect Four. There is even a slot on the Sportsfest schedule that is set aside for a “Mystery Event” whose identity will be revealed to the players only at game time.

Single-sex teams from every residence hall and the apartments will compete against each other in all of these events, with the overall victory going to the residence hall that wins the most events.

Although six residences will be competing in Sportsfest, it is clear that the main battle for the trophy will be fought against the underclassmen dormitories of Stanford and Hecht.

Jason Carroll, assistant director of intramural sports, serves as the overall coordinator for Sportsfest weekend. Carroll believes that the trophy will be likely to go to either one of these two residential colleges.

“Stanford and Hecht have the edge because they have more people participating and the freshman and sophomores are usually more eager to participate than the upperclassmen,” Carroll said.

In fact, the freshman and sophomore dorms make up about 60 to 80 percent of total participation for Sportsfest while the upperclassmen dormitories of Mahoney and Pearson generally have fewer teams participating.

Carroll attributes this participation level not so much to a lack of interest on the students’ part but also to extracurricular activities and other responsibilities that the older students tend to have that can hinder their ability to devote time to Sportsfest weekend.

Leyla Al-Mansoori, residential coordinator for Hecht, believes that the secret to Hecht’s recent success in Sportsfest is all about enthusiasm.

“I think Hecht in general gets really excited about events like this,” Al-Mansoori said, “and as long as [students are] out there having fun I think they do well.”

While Sportsfest is planned as a weekend of fun and recreation for students, conflicts do sometimes arise amid the competitors. Alex Coombs, sophomore, participated in last year’s Sportsfest. According to Coombs, problems tend to surface when teams begin to take the games and winning too seriously.

“Last year I played soccer and the other team was so serious and intense [about the game],” Coombs said, “I thought ‘aren’t we supposed to be having fun here?'”

In spite of that one unpleasant instance, Coombs still feels that Sportsfest lives up to its potential as an overall fun weekend.

“[Sportsfest] is good because it helps you get to know people,” Coombs said, “and they try to make [an event] for everyone.”

Although Coombs is currently a Hecht resident, she admits to harboring hopes for a victory for Stanford, her former residence hall. Stanford held eight straight championships until 2001, when Hecht began its winning streak. However, whether the victor will be Hecht or Stanford, or any of the other residence halls, is an issue that remains to be settled on the IM fields.

Marina Nazir can be contacted at m.nazir@umiami.edu.