|by Sean Clerget • October 26, 2006|
The football season at Hampden-Sydney College, and most of the fall semester builds towards one central event. They call it THE Game.
In the final game of the season HSC’s football team takes on its archrivals, Randolph Macon College. The week of build up to the game is called Macon week. Events such as a blood drive and a penny collection (for charity) are held as a competition between the two schools. On Friday night everyone gathers together to enjoy an all-campus bonfire.
It has become a tradition that Classics Professor John Brinkley, who wrote the HSC history book, gives what should only be described as an oration. According to several students, Professor Brinkley quotes several historic texts, but slants them towards the destruction of Randolph Macon. Most notably he recites the book of Revelation where the Lord "brings down all the plagues upon Randolph Macon…"
The students seem to find this speech both comical and inspirational.
You may have noticed that the week is eerily similar to Monon Bell Week. The similarities were noticed throughout the trip to HSC. However, differences do exist. HSC only supports seven NCAA athletic teams, while Wabash has ten. The team that HSC has that Wabash does not is it’s very popular lacrosse team. The Lacrosse field is one of its nicest athletic facilities and they even have a practice lacrosse field.
As far as student participation goes, 25 percent of the student body plays an NCAA sport, and 75 percent play an intramural sport. IM teams are divided by living units at HSC. Instead, anyone can register a team, made up of any students that do not participate in that sport at the NCAA level. Basketball and flag football are the most popular of the IM sports. Almost one third of the entire campus participates in IM basketball.
According to the IM director Steve Harrell the students are extremely interested in all sports, both IM’s and Varsity. "We get pretty good attendance for the IM games especially in the later rounds". One cool thing they do is hold the IM football championship on the main field, and set everything up like a real game.
One comment was made several times during the trip by several different administrators. When discussing the athletic facilities, both Steve Harrell and Athletic Director Joe Bush echoed the same idea, which is that "we don’t have a huge endowment like you do" (just a reminder to Wabash men to remember how lucky we are).
That being said HSC has done a great job with their facilities. If Wabash facilities were to receive an A ranking, then HSC’s facilities would get a B-plus. The College will begin construction on a new football stadium at the end of this season, which will do even more to improve its facilities.
Just like Wabash, going to football games on Saturday is a sort of ritual for Hampden-Sydney men. However, it seems that basketball is the sport that has the most interest and strongest fan following. The gym is usually packed for home games, and a fair number of students travel to the road games.
Several students said the fans at games can get pretty rowdy. Student Body President and basketball player Drew Phemus agreed. "Yeah they can get rowdy sometimes, but the best thing about our fans is their intelligence. They know when to be loud and when not to be loud."
Other students mentioned one of the favorite cheers that their fans use when they are losing: "It’s alright, its okay, you’re gonna work for us someday!" It seems that the same type of superiority complex exists at both schools (it is warranted of course).
Several students and administrators, when asked about their favorite HSC stories, mentioned the 100th Macon game. The game was attended by over 13,000 people and Randolph Macon came in as the strong favorite. HSC pulled off the upset. The student body rushed the field and tore down the goalposts. After parading the goalposts around campus for what some said was an hour, the students decided that the only logical place to drop them was in one of the campus’ three lakes. Everyone seemed to re-tell the story with fond memories. It is one of the many historical stories that HSC men have in common.
In the small school environment, especially an all-male environment, the connections between students are quite strong. If you thought such things only happened at Wabash you are wrong. Drew Phemus described his experience in playing basketball in this way, "you begin to develop a relationship with the fans. You know them and they know you, and everyone sort of becomes a family."
Although Wabash College and HSC have many differences, they share a unique bond with each other, and one way this bond manifests itself is through athletics.