How the ‘Hecht’ do they keep winning?

The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and Hecht Residential College coming away with the Master’s Trophy at the end of every February. At least that’s how students and SportsFest enthusiasts are feeling after Hecht won last year for the eighth year in a row.

SportsFest is the annual Olympic-style competition held between the residential colleges, commuter students, University Village and the apartment area. SportsFest, which will be held this year Feb. 19-21, is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary.

With Hecht having established their own SportsFest dynasty, frustrated students have come up with their own rationale as to why they have such a distinct advantage.

“They have a lot more people participating than anyone else,” said Joaquin Moreyra, a commuter student and SportsFest participant. “So they beat us in numbers.”

Hecht traditionally does have a stronger student showing than any of the other residential colleges. In a survey conducted immediately after the conclusion of last year’s event, out of 434 who responded, 142 of them, almost 33 percent, resided in Hecht.

Although participation is a big part of determining the winner, it is not just the number of participants a college has that gives them their points. In order to make it fair for areas such as Eaton or the University Village that don’t have the numbers of Hecht or Stanford, participation points are awarded by determining the percentage of people participating from each residential area.

Even with this setup, the residents within Hecht have found a way to make sure they come out on top.

“When you live in Hecht, they sell SportsFest to you,” said junior Maggie DeBarberie, a former Hecht resident and SportsFest participant. “They basically tell you ‘you don’t lose SportsFest.’”

Hecht and Stanford, the two residential colleges that are the perennial favorites to win the trophy, house primarily freshmen and sophomores. In the same survey conducted after SportsFest ended, just under 53 percent of respondents were freshmen, with sophomores next on the list at less than 22 percent. This puts residential colleges such as Mahoney, Pearson and Eaton, who generally house upperclassmen, at a disadvantage.

“After you’ve been a part of SportsFest once, it isn’t nearly as new and exciting,” said Peter Self, a resident assistant at Mahoney.

It isn’t really all that difficult to see what it is about Hecht that makes them so hard to beat. Beyond participation, they make sure that everyone is where they’re supposed to be at all times, and avoid penalties for things such as forfeiting or failing to attend meetings.

Another common myth regarding Hecht’s dominance is that they have the better athletes. Though SportsFest does hold competitions in traditionally athletic events such as basketball, flag football and soccer, however, they also host events that do not incorporate athletic skill, such as Rock Band, Rock Paper Scissors and the Arsht Debate events.

Each college’s resident assistants are responsible for getting the word out to students and encouraging them to participate. Junior Scott Braun believes Hecht’s RAs gives them a huge advantage.

“Hecht isn’t necessarily more athletic,” Braun said. “Participation is a huge part of SportsFest, and Hecht gets a lot of help from the RAs who are on top of it the whole weekend.”

When asked to speak to an RA at Hecht and Stanford, both residential colleges declined to comment.

According to Tom Soria, coordinator of SportsFest, all a residential college really needs in order to have a shot at winning is a committed group of students.

“The University Village almost won in 2008, and they only had four teams,” Soria said.

Before Hecht started their eight-year run at the trophy, Stanford also had its own eight-year streak from 1994-2001. Maybe this is the year that Hecht’s streak ends and a new one begins.

Ernesto Suarez may be contacted at