With Simpson Residence currently in the lead, the 18 competing teams still have two more events in the Homecoming competition, in which one team will receive 200 points, and the team with the most cumulative points will be awarded the homecoming trophy.
The Off-Campus Coalition, a joint team of 14 off-campus houses with approximately 60 people participating, will be the first team of its kind to compete in recent memory, since off-campus houses in previous years have competed individually.
“One of the things we’ve got going for us is we have a lot of older students who have been around the block a lot, from all the different dorms,” said junior and Off-Campus Coalition Leader Dietrich Balsbaugh. “We have a lot of resources available to do really well.”
Balsbaugh said the Off-Campus Coalition has been in the works since as far back as last semester, and he met with a few alumni at the beginning of the year to discuss potential strategies.
“All revolutions start very quietly. It started with a few of us, we started spreading the word around, not trying to be super noticeable, and then once we got here it was go time, it was time for the revolution to come out, and let campus know that Off-Campus would be rising again. Or rising for the first time, really,” Balsbaugh said.
The Coalition’s video submission is meant to mimic the style of filmmaker Wes Anderson, a favorite among Hillsdale students new and old.
“We’re going for a subtler, more revolutionary vibe,” Balsbaugh said.
Simpson Residence, which has won homecoming the past seven years, is hoping to achieve a win for their eighth year, though other dorms also plan to call this year their own. Simpson head resident assistant senior Josh Bailey said he thinks the increase of pressure to perform each year provides all the houses with a healthy incentive.
“Every year the pressure is on for Simpson to outdo themselves, and I think the pressure is also on for the rest of campus because every year they’re like, ‘No way this happens another year,’” Bailey said. “It just builds. But it’s cool in one respect, because all the teams are trying harder and harder to win, which means that the performance at every homecoming just gets better…And to see the level of competition just go up throughout the time that I’ve spent here is pretty cool.”
Niedfeldt residence RA sophomore Nick Macaluso said as a smaller dorm, it can be hard to get enough people involved and enthusiastic about the competition. Nevertheless, they are not combining with another dorm as in previous years.
“Niedfeldt has two things going for it this year,” Macaluso said. “One is a very enthusiastic, energetic group of freshmen, and the other is a very cohesive RA team. It’s because of those two reasons we’ve decided to do homecoming as a dorm, rather than joining with a group, because it gives the residents a sense of ownership over the projects.”
He added that the “competitive spirit” is just as prevalent in Niedfeldt.
“We would definitely like to see some new winners, especially coming out of Mock Rock,” Macaluso said. “If blood does make the grass grow, we’d like Simpson to have a nice lawn.”
Preparation for Mock Rock has occupied most of the dorms leaders’ time. Off-Campus Coalition has been practicing for two hours a day for the past two weeks, Balsbaugh said, and Simpson and Mauckzing — Mauck and Benzing — also described spending the majority of their time preparing for that event.
“Those are the moments that make homecoming really worth it, seeing your team do well, and having it pay off for them. The first day of practice is always awkward…but then there’s that one day when people start to hit the notes, and it’s awesome,” Balsbaugh said.
Benzing residence head RA senior Molly Schutte called Mock Rock practice “a picture of what the week is supposed to be like” as a whole.
“We get together and we dance, and if we don’t like something, then we talk about it and we change it and we have fun while we’re doing it,” Schutte said. “It’s really enjoyable.”
The Student Activities Board, which conducts homecoming activities, started planning the first day of the school year, according to senior Kendra Lantis.
“Homecoming is always on our mind,” Lantis said. “We specifically make a brief where we try to analyze every event, what could go wrong, how to prepare for the worst, and we delegate events to our team members so we can all be more intentionally focused on our specific events.”
SAB added a trivia night this year, which Lantis described as a move towards more objective competitions in the future.
“It’s hard to find judges that are not biased, have the time commitment, and are just simply willing,” Lantis said, “but we’re very excited for the judges that we have and are thankful for them.”
Bailey said that for him, homecoming is ultimately about “developing community.”
“Everyone can remember their freshman year and how important it was to find that community…People should focus on that community-building aspect and have a lot of fun with it. And get competitive, but don’t take it too far,” he said.