Since the second week of the semester, a growing group of students have tackled down time with football on the lawn between Guenther and the Administration Building.
“If I have a test, I can come out here and push somebody around. It’s relieving. I sweat it out,” said Trent Wheeler, business student.
Early in the semester, a game of catch began attracting students from across campus, regardless of their experience in football, which eventually grew into pick-up games.
“It was just me and a friend throwing [the ball] and the next thing I knew, people started coming out of nowhere,” said Derrick Wilson, sports management student that started the pick-up games this semester.
Wilson had pick-up games on campus last year but the games had fewer players, many of which were friends. This semester, games have grown to sometimes include as many around 20 students. “You’re here. You see someone from your classes. They come in and just join. That’s it,” said Nick Langenbacher, business student.
Along with an increase in participation, pick-up games have drawn a new audience. This semester, business student Bobby Narcavage and his friends started watching the pick-up games grow from a nearby picnic table. “We usually sit here and play the NFL theme song while we sit here and do homework,” he said.
Since the group started playing on the lawn, highlights of the pick-up games started surfacing on Twitter. “Sometimes they’ll write about us. It’s cool. We’re famous,” said Wilson.
Jonathan Carroll, mechanical engineering student, has been featured on the page and is known for wearing a cowboy hat during games. “We’ve seen his [cowboy hat] knocked off a couple times and somehow he actually catches it as it’s coming off only to put it back on,” said Cameron Michelle, business student.
Pick-up games have provided an opportunity for students who are unable to play football. Trent Wheeler played at Milford Academy before coming to Hudson Valley but was unable to play on the school’s team due to his grades. “I’m very passionate about the sport. That’s why I’m out here,” he said.
“This is nothing to me,” said Jessinia Kelly, criminal justice student about the competition level on the lawn. Kelly played football in Chatham until tenth grade when suffered from a dislocated elbow.
Over the last month, pick-up games have attracted friends of students off campus. “I walk by and notice … I’m pretty sure these don’t kids have class here,” said Adam Messare, business student. On Fridays, according to Michelle, non-students will often stop by the campus to play football.
Many of the students playing that don’t know each other by name, know each other through nicknames like “The Refrigerator” and “Big Al.” Carroll said, “It’s all mostly for fun but there are a couple of people who join in which are a bit over the top. Hopefully we don’t get too many of them.”
Jeff Xu, CIS student, prepares for the worst when playing pick-up games due to injuries he’s witnessed. “This guy just actually got his eye cut up. I wear glasses and I legit don’t want that to happen to me so now I take them off,” said Xu.
Students passing by the area have had mixed reactions walking near pick-up games. “I just hate having to walk all the way around [Guenther Hall] because I’m afraid to get hit with a football,” said Kate Ziegler, individual studies student. According to the office of the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Development, the pick-up games have not drawn any concern so far. The games, according to the office may only draw concern if violence breaks out.
During games, some players often go topless across the lawn. “I’m not feeling the whole ‘shirtless guys running around campus’ thing’,” said Xach Phillips, business student.
Wilson believes that as temperatures continue to drop, both topless students and players may dwindle, but pick-up games will continue on campus. “We’ll play in the snow. We’ll play in the gym. It just depends how cold it gets this year,” he said.