Pierson freshmen emerge victorious

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Photo by Elena Malloy.

This Saturday, the 12 residential colleges battled it out yet again for the annual Freshman Olympics.

Although the games were initially a contested affair, Pierson College eventually ran away with this year’s competition, garnering 3,500 points and breaking defending champion Morse’s two-year reign. Jonathan Edwards and Timothy Dwight College came in second and third with 2,200 and 2,050 points, respectively.

As victors, Pierson also won a Freshman Olympics cup that Mory’s donated to FCC this year. Joel Bervell ’17, one of the two Freshman Class Council members responsible for the festivities, said he hopes this cup will eventually become the traditional cup of the event be handed down from one winning college to another.

For the first year ever, the event’s organizers added a theme to the proceedings, choosing the popular movie series the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games was a “no-brainer choice” given the competitive nature of the Olympics and the rivalry between the colleges, Bervell said.

Organizers and participants interviewed said they were pleased with the success and excitement of the games.

Spencer Rogers ’17, a co-captain of TD’s team, said the cool but dry weather encouraged his peers to come out in the droves.

“The weather was absolutely perfect, we couldn’t have asked for more,” Bervell said.

Although Friday’s thunderstorm forced FCC to move the Olympics’ opening ceremonies to Saturday, Bervell said this was actually a good thing in hindsight because the opening event stoked student excitement.

Stephanie Siow ’17, who organized the competition with Bervell, said the opening ceremony conveyed the lighthearted intensity of the entire games with its opening music. Each residential college’s captains and their most eager athletes ran around Old Campus while music from Chariots of Fire blared across the lawns, she said.

Kira Tebbe ’17, a co-captain of Pierson’s team, said she was proud with her college’s victory, adding that it was a testament to the unity that has defined her freshmen class. Tebbe said she and her co-captain, Dylan Onderdonk-Snow ’17, organized study breaks and texted their fellow Pierson classmates throughout the day to ensure that the college’s turnout was both high and also focused, with students coming out to play in events they were particularly good at.

Though a number of colleges embraced the new theme by creating Hunger Games inspired apparel — Pierson’s shirts read “College on Fire” — the events were mostly the same as last year, according to Maia Eliscovich Sigal ’16, student life chair of the Yale College Council and a FCC member last year.

Still, Sigal said she appreciated the ingenuity of this year’s FCC in adding a shaving-cream-based Twister game and continuing some of last year’s well-received additions such as the rap battle. FCC representative Adriana Embus ’17 said this year’s Olympics also featured a sack race, a Rubix Cube battle and a “Riddle Relay” where each member of a team answered a unique riddle.

Both Sigal and Grant Fergusson ’16, who co-organized the Freshman Olympics last year, said this year’s attendance was lower than last year’s because this year’s FCC broke from tradition in not offering a barbeque. In prior years, FCC organizers would take the meal swipes of the freshmen class to pay for a barbeque on Old Campus in hopes that this would encourage more students to attend and participate in the games.

“I’m actually pretty happy they didn’t have a barbeque because you’re not forcing students to stand around in Old Campus if they don’t want to,” Fergusson said. “Although attendance was lower this year, the overall energy of the games was higher because only people who really wanted to be here were here.”

Bervell said the organizers made this decision because some freshmen had told them earlier in the year that they either did not enjoy or could not eat the food that would be available at a conventional barbeque. He added that the logistical challenges of hosting a barbeque were immense and the organizers could spend more of their time planning and preparing the games.

In prior years, attendees and college captains have criticized FCC organizers for either opaque rules or arbitrary refereeing. To prevent these complaints from being repeated, Bervell and Siow said FCC sent out a handbook to all captains explaining the rules to each game thoroughly. Bervell said FCC organizers also repeatedly stressed to all referees — who were either YCC or FCC members — that impartiality was crucial to a successful and enjoyable games.

In the handbook, which was distributed to the captains of all teams, the FCC warned that “stealing another college’s paraphernalia will result in automatic disqualification.” This proviso was added, according to Bervell and Siow, after the 2012 Games when TD stole the flags of four other residential colleges.

All 11 participants interviewed said they enjoyed this year’s activities and thought the events were well-organized and helped bring each college’s freshman class closer together.

Several students cited this year’s Assassin’s Games, which began as an advertising campaign for Saturday’s Games, as a particularly enjoyable event which elicited more collegiate pride than they expected.

“I was kind of surprised that such intensity and spirit was out there,” Fergusson said of the Assassin’s Games.

Still, in coming years, Siow said she hopes the FCC will continue enhancing its use of technology when covering the Games. This year, the FCC requested that the “kills” of the final Tributes be recorded on video and uploaded to the FCC Facebook page. Next year, Siow said she hopes more of the games will be digitalized and that the FCC will do a better job of using Twitter to update students on events and the changing scoreboard throughout the day.

Trumbull finished last this year with 850 points. After winning the last two Freshman Olympics, Morse came in ninth this year.

Correction: April 7

A previous version of this article stated that Morse came in tenth place this year. In fact, it came in ninth. 

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