By David Song, September 10 2016 —
Kickoff is the marquee event of the University of Calgary’s Orientation Week. A long-running tradition, first-year and upper-year students alike are encouraged to attend the annual gridiron showdown. This year was no exception, as fans decked out in red livery and yellow O-Week shirts packed McMahon Stadium to take in the game between the U of C Dinos and University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
As usual, Kickoff began with a lively tailgate party, featuring bounce castles, free food and Dinos gear. But what set this tailgate apart from previous ones was a successful bid for a Guinness World Record. 1365 people played a game of Red Light, Green Light before the football game as part of a campaign to raise awareness for sexual consent on campus. Hosted by the Women’s Resource Centre, the students cheered the accomplishment heartily when the results were announced just before the game.
Despite the sea of red and yellow at McMahon, the Thunderbirds were represented by a small contingent of boisterous, blue-clad fans brandishing cow bells. The UBC faithful were not intimidated by the Dinos fans around them, continuing to chant “Defence! Defence!” even as their team fell behind on the scoreboard. The healthy rivalry between campuses helped inject new energy into the McMahon crowd.
“It’s been nice watching [the Dinos] destroy UBC, that’s always fun,” third-year engineering student Kali Sayers said at the half, with the home team up 14-1. “People are here, they’re having fun. It’s warm, so that makes everyone happier, and we’re winning, so you couldn’t ask for much more.”
In stark contrast to last year’s cold, rainy conditions, this year’s game was played beneath sunny skies and a reasonably warm 18C day. The favourable weather helped the crowd stay engaged with the game, and U of C fans rose to their feet with every touchdown. The Dinos prevailed 35-8 thanks to clutch performances by the running back corps, an electrifying 97-yard punt return and timely throws from new quarterback Jimmy Underdahl.
“I thought it was a really exciting game. Not quite as bad a blowout as last year, but still very fun to watch with a substantial Dinos win. Weather was a lot better as well,” fourth-year student Marissa Baden said at the conclusion of her fourth Kickoff. “I’ve always really liked this event. I know some people don’t really get engaged in the game, but I think it’s just a nice event for everybody to come out and show some school spirit as a group.”
As always, there were a number of people who left the game early, but for the most part, Kickoff brought in the new semester with a bang. If this is any indication, U of C students can look forward to plenty of excitement and spirit at future Dinos home games.