Quick question -- Who are Willie the Wildcat, Bill the Goat, Buzz the Bee, Testudo the Terrapin, the Sooner Schooner and the Demon Deacon and what could they possibly have in common? Stumped, are you…? It’s an easy one for any in the vicinity of Naples today, as the decibel level reached new heights and was heard all over Skylemar and beyond today. Answer -- These are the 6 team mascots of the college participants in the 2022 edition of one of our oldest traditions – Intercollegiate Day.
The school spirit actually began rising a few days ago when Grand Marshall Nick Shep announced the randomly selected teams that would compete for this year’s IC Day “trophy”. The boys were separated into 7 “classes” (our usual divisions), starting with our youngest “students” -- the Cubs (Bunks 1-6) and Tigers (Bunks7-9), then the traditional college hierarchy of Freshmen (Bunks 10-14), Sophomores (Bunks 15-19), Juniors (20-23) and Seniors (25-28), and finally our post-grad class, the Stars (Bunks 29, 30 and JCs). The 6 “halls of higher education” chosen by their counselor leaders to battle it out in this, the 74th version of this very special day -- Northwestern, the US Naval Academy (Navy), Georgia Tech, Maryland, Oklahoma and Wake Forest Universities -- were well-represented in a daytime filled with athletic events followed by the nighttime performances of each school’s “Songs and Cheers” (rehearsed for a few days in advance) to determine the overall IC Day winner.
And here’s how the day played out….
The morning routine, from reveille to breakfast to inspection just like always…until all participants were called to the Snow Field, where each team staked claim to their spot on the overlooking bank. Most kids proudly wore school colors or face-paint, and team banners waved proudly as the overlapping cheers created quite a morning buzz…the Wildcats, Midshipmen, Yellow Jackets, Terps, Sooners and Demon Deacons were ready to rumble!
Nick Shep settled the crowd, then set the scene for IC Day’s official opening event – the Dash, one of the most celebrated of all IC Day activities. Class by class, the sprinters from each team were called to the starting blocks – 7 exciting races run in about 10 minutes time, with nearly each resulting in a photo finish -- 5 of the 7 races really did need a quick replay look from our top-notch camera crew just to be sure of the winner! Maryland put its stamp on the Dash with 3 wins - Alex S (Cubs, B4), Max P (Tigers) and Boden (Sophs) crossed the finish line first for the Terps. Both Myren (Freshmen, B12) and Sam (Senior, B26) raced to glory for the Wildcats, and Wake Forest’s Elias (B22) was the Juniors champ. To close the event, all lauded Oklahoma’s Grant as he nipped Navy’s Ethan K at the wire to prove he’s “the fastest man in camp.”
Once complete, the boys began a rotation through 6 different athletic activities, moving by class to venues all over camp. Gaga and Steal the Bacon, two events revered by our littlest guys, may have been the most popular activities, especially for the older guys who maybe thought they’d outgrown them. Both Gaga pits were busy all day as each class competed in a fast-paced, round-robin mini-tourney to score points for their teams; same for Steal the Bacon, played down on the Snow Field, where the Cubs showed that it’s still their game!
Our own legendary Skylemar creation, Buoy Ball, was as popular as ever. Simultaneous action - think baseball with a buoy (bat) and rubberized, oversized “tennis” ball – on both the Middle diamond and Fred Pierce fields saw plenty of great hits and bare-handed fielding gems from all classes. Power & Finesse was an updated version of an old Skylemar favorite, Lightning -- the soccer “knock-out” style game that keeps everyone “in it” (even after apparent elimination) with a chance for reinstatement on every shot taken or save made. Passing, shooting, and goalie play kept all participants in constant revolving motion. Nick and his crew also converted the new mini Fiddlestick lax field into another volleyball court just above the existing beach volleyball court. Again the dual action of simultaneous, round-robin, “knock-out” games in both Newcomb for the younger guys and volleyball for the Upperclassmen presented a showcase of excitement and boisterous support heard all over.
And in Blacktop Hoops at the BBall court, there were 3on3, 4on4, and 5on5 tourneys in most divisions, but just after lunch, Mother Nature dropped in with an early afternoon rain delay when the Seniors were scheduled. The courts slicked up a bit temporarily, so Nick Shep quickly changed course (and the game) to “Hot Shot”, a timed, speed-shooting skill event that built a rather large crowd of spirited onlookers. Speaking of Mother Nature, her brief appearance did sink the “Sunken Boat Regatta” scheduled down at Trickey, but that didn’t stop the rest of the afternoon from giving all a chance to participate in all other planned activities. It was a fantastic day of fun, competition, sportsmanship and team spirit – the hallmark of this long-cherished Skylemar favorite. Everyone looked forward to the evening activity, Songs and Cheers, which would ultimately decide our IC Day winner.
After dinner, the schools headed off to their final rehearsal. The time and effort that went into tonight’s performances started long before today. Each team’s counselor leaders have been working for weeks picking music, writing lyrics, etc. in preparation for tonight’s show, but they then must somehow, after just a few days of practice, have a group of about 40 boys learn the words and music, and perform their 5 song set (Team Cheer, Camp Cheer, Team Fight Song, Old Camp and Original Camp Song) on the Skylemar stage. And that they did. The teams gathered in front of the Rec Hall and one by one, under a beautiful moonlit sky, each team sang their hearts out. The setting was just magical, and the sounds of Skylemar tradition echoed from each and every performance. Judges Barney, Matissi, and DT were tasked with the final word, and all waited for Shep’s proclamation of the 2022 Intercollegiate Day winner – Northwestern University!