By Kristy Koehler, September 13 2018—
This year, Orientation Week became Fall Orientation, reduced from its original four-day schedule down to two jam-packed days. Orientation Week used to culminate in Kickoff, an annual University of Calgary tradition marking the beginning of the Dinos football season, the beginning of the academic year and the end of O-Week.
Kickoff is an important part of orientation, giving students a healthy dose of Dinos pride and, for many, their first taste of school spirit. This year, classes began on a Thursday. If you were among the many students who organized your schedule to run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the last day of the week would have been your first day of classes on the same day as the game. It was uncertain if this new schedule would impact attendance at the game.
This year however, the beginning of football season was also the beginning of Alumni Weekend. The fun began at 3:30 p.m. with the Students’ Union Fun Zone and the Alumni Block Party. There was a Dunk-a-Dean tank, carnival games and free food for the first 2,000 attendees. An energetic crowd came out for the pre-game and stayed for the main event.
The Dinos faced the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in a rematch of last year’s Hardy Trophy game. The crowd, wearing face-paint and holding cardboard cutouts of their favourite players, cheered along with Dinos mascot Rex and brought the stadium to life.
The Dinos dominated the game the entire way and the crowd cheered along with every thrilling pass. Even when it became clear that the Dinos couldn’t lose, the crowd kept up the energy, erupting into a raucous “Let’s go Dinos!” chant. In the end, the Dinos destroyed the T-Birds 57–7.
The crowd count for this year’s Kickoff was 5,998 — not the best crowd ever to gather at McMahon for the Dinos home opener, but certainly not the worst. Last year’s crowd numbered 6,248, but most years hover around the 5,000 mark. Regardless, it’s safe to say that the differing orientation dates did not impact attendance in a significant way for one of U of C’s biggest games of the year.