Simpson Residence won Homecoming’s spirit week competition for the seventh year in a row on Saturday, after finishing first at the Mock Rock dance-off.
The 200-point victory pushed the team from third to first place, pushing it ahead of the Paul House, which was in first place before Mock Rock.
Hillsdale College held its Homecoming celebrations Sept. 25 – 30. Ranging from banner decorating and “tacky trophy” contests to competitive wing eating and volunteering, students from different dorms and Greek houses on campus came together to compete for the title of Homecoming champion.
On Saturday, Student Federation announced that campus voted seniors Dean Sinclair and Ashlee Moran for Homecoming king and queen. Moran represented the Chi Omega sorority, and Sinclair was nominated as an independent.
Sinclair said it humbled him to be selected among the other nominees.
“It made me smile,” he said. “It’s nice to be thought of in that way. After I got crowned, I just went back to the pep band and kept on playing the rest of the game,” he said. “I enjoyed that, and I still got to play drums.”
Moran said the victory surprised her.
“It didn’t process when it all happened,” Moran said. “Everyone was running the field, so it was a little overwhelming. It didn’t really feel real. I feel really humbled and really undeserving that people would vote for me. I don’t feel like I deserve that sort of recognition, but it’s very kind. I feel so grateful that Hillsdale voted for me.”
Homecoming week is a good way of bringing students together from across campus, Moran said.
“The week was really great with competition,” Moran said. “It keeps everyone involved with campus. I think it’s great that we can include both independents and Greek life. It’s really important to mend the divide that I think sometimes is created.”
But homecoming is about dorm community, too.
Simpson Resident Assistant sophomore Dietrich Balsbaugh said the RAs tried to get as many guys involved as they could. Balsbaugh said Homecoming this year was different for him because this was his first year as an RA.
“It’s definitely a much larger scale than I realized freshman year,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we have to consider. On one hand, you have to consider, how are we actually going to do the events; what do we want to do? And then, secondly, how are we going to get guys involved in this; how is the dorm enjoying Homecoming? Because the RAs love Homecoming, it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.”
Balsbaugh noted that it was important for the Simpson RAs not only to keep Simpson involved but also to encourage friendly competition among campus, as well.
“If the rest of the dorm isn’t enjoying Homecoming, then we aren’t doing our job well,” Balsbaugh said. “We have to pay attention to how the school is doing in homecoming. We have to be aware of how we’re holding ourselves during the week to make sure that it’s the best experience as possible for as many people as possible. I think it went really well this year.”
As far as the actual Mock Rock competition, Balsbaugh highlighted the fact that’s it’s mostly about enjoying the night.
“What makes Mock Rock excellent is it’s a conversation about the people dancing and the people watching,” Balsbaugh said. “The dorm sends out their representatives, they do a move, and the crowd goes nuts, and that just gives them more encouragement. And the crowd gets into it even more. That’s what we really wanted to do. At the end of the day, that was what I wanted to have happen: to have the crowd get into it, to enjoy what we do here.”
Although Simpson won Mock Rock, another team set fire to the dance floor — literally.
During the dance from Mauckoodfeldt — a team combining Mauck, Koon, and Niedfeldt residences — a student carried a lit torch into the arena, dripping rubbing alcohol onto the floor and catching leftover confetti from a previous performance on fire, according to Hank Prim, assistant director of student activities and director of residence life. He and Director of Student Activities Ashlyn Landherr ran across the court to stomp out the fire, and the student carrying the torch dropped it into a bucket of water prepared prior to the dance, which Prim then removed from the arena.
Prim said the two primary concerns were putting out the fire and making sure everyone in the building was safe.
Koon Head Resident Assistant senior Reuben Blake said he and other RAs had planned on incorporating a fire drumming routine even before they began work on the choreography.
“We practiced it outside of Niedfeldt to make sure it was doable and safe before we decided the move it forward with some of the residents,” Blake said. “During the week leading up to Mock Rock, during our dance practices, we had dress rehearsals, and we also included fire drum rehearsals. During all of those practices, we never had an incident, we never had anything else catch fire. We had practiced it quite a bit and then even changed the way that we were doing it a couple times so that it was more practical and more safe.”
Prim said SAB plans on addressing issues like this for future performances.
“Moving forward, Ashlyn and I will make sure that we’re very straightforward on what the obligations are, what the requirements are, and the prohibitions with Mock Rock performance, just to make sure that everyone’s on the same page,” Prim said.
But fire wasn’t the only thing that caused a stir at Mock Rock. Delta Tau Delta broke from a traditional group dance and sent only one representative onto the dance floor.
Sophomore Mitchell Biggs reenacted the famous dance from the film “Napoleon Dynamite” for the routine.
“Delt has been so busy with Homecoming week, and our 150th anniversary is in a week and a half, so we didn’t have time to get a full Mock Rock going,” Biggs said.
According to Biggs, James Young, the vice president of Delta Tau Delta, approached him and asked if he would do the “Napoleon Dynamite” dance just for fun.
That’s exactly what he did. But at first, Biggs said he didn’t think he was actually going to do the dance.
“I said ‘sure’ as a joke; I didn’t think it was going to happen,” he said. “It didn’t hit me until Thursday at midnight that I really had to do this dance. I was hoping the audience would have fun with it, because it was not supposed to be a real competitor in Mock Rock. It was just more to have a good time and laugh about it.”
The audience cheered and laughed through the performance and gave a standing ovation at its end.
“It was a good time,” Biggs said. “The Delts were just happy that they pushed me to do it because I was very hesitant about the whole process.”
Another team also caused a stir with a surprise guest performance.
The first place team at the time, Paul House, deployed a secret weapon for Mock Rock: a religion professor. During the middle of their performance, Jordan Wales, assistant professor of theology, hit the floor with the women of Paul House.
Wales said the Paul House’s house director, senior Sarah Schutte, reached outto his wife, Kathryn, about getting Wales to participate
“I know Mrs. Wales from Catholic Society events, and I’ve babysat for her, so I contacted her during our meeting about Homecoming,” Schutte said. “We knew we needed a really unexpected element in our dance, so when one of the girls suggested asking him, I asked. She replied that Dr. Wales was interested.”
Wales said backup dancers were popular when he was growing up in the early 1990s, and lots of people tried to imitate that style of dance for artists such as Janet Jackson and Vanilla Ice. According to Wales, what he did was not actual breakdancing, but he was able to recreate some choreography he studied in preparation for the routine.
“Of course, I had to refresh my memory, so I watched a few YouTube videos of ’90s backup dancers and then danced all over the place in my kitchen to the delight of my 1-year-old son,” Wales said in an email. “I met with the ladies of Paul House for one evening in the dance studio of the Sage Center. Each practice run was different, each felt more exhausting than the last, and each lasted only about 42 seconds. I am newly inspired to get regular cardiovascular exercise.”
Wales said he felt mixed emotions before and after the performance.
“I vacillated between feeling nervous, amazed at the crowd’s reaction, and triumphant like Maximus and Juba at the end of their first arena battle in the movie ‘Gladiator,’” Wales said. “Mainly I was hoping that I wouldn’t let the Paul House down.”
Schutte said it wasn’t hard to get the residents of Paul House excited about Homecoming.
“Since we’re so small, we knew it would take more effort and planning, and it really payed off,” Schutte said in an email. “We were already planning the different events a week into the semester.”
Ultimately, Homecoming is a chance for the residences to come together and compete as a community against each other. Balsbaugh said Simpson wanted to promote campus unity as a whole.
“Right before we went out on the court to do Mock Rock, Zach [Stone] told us, ‘After we’re done, normally we chant, ‘Who are we? Simpson,’ but this time we’re going to say ‘Hillsdale,’’” said Balsbaugh.