Olivia Cattabriga / Art Director

Erin McNemar

Managing Executive Editor

As Summer Orientation winded down, first-year students took part in the annual Hootie’s Fall Sports Kick Off on Friday, August 23. The event is different from other Orientation activities in the sense that students are not required to stay in their Orientation groups, but have the opportunity to mingle with all of their fellow classmates. First-year students were able to watch the Keene State College Women’s Soccer and Field Hockey games while having a cookout style dinner provided by the Dining Commons.

The Hootie’s Fall Sports Kick Off became part of Orientation a few years ago. According to  Director of Transitions and Parent Programs Casey Justice, the event was designed to give first-year students an opportunity to socialize with their new classmates and highlight sports at the college. “We put the students through all these different presentations during Orientation and we try to keep them as interactive as possible. But we really did want to start to build some excitement around the athletic teams on campus and show students The Owl Athletic Complex really isn’t that far away,” Justice said.

Each year, Orientation works with Athletics to determine which sports team will be playing during the Fall Kick Off. “For next year, we are in talks with the Women’s Volleyball team to possibly even just keep it on campus. We want to make sure we are highlighting all the Fall sports that we can,” Justice said. “It would also lessen the stress for the Dining Commons if they only had to move the food to Appian Way rather than The Athletic Complex.”

Prior to the Sports Kick Off, first-year students spend the day doing community service. For this reason, the event is designed to be free-flowing and students are not required to stay the whole time. “I think it’s a long day for community service so when the lights start to go down a little bit, most of them are ready to go and just chill,” said Orientation Student Coordinator Nate Flyzik.

While some students do decide to return to campus shortly after grabbing dinner at the fields, according to Justice and Flyzik, most students stay to watch the majority of the games. “The Sports Kick Off is something different and it’s something exciting. If students do find themselves going to The Athletic Complex during the year, that’s great. It’s pretty close, but you won’t know how to get there if you didn’t walk there before,” Flyzik said.

First-year Emma Lavery said she thought the event was a good opportunity for students to socialize with one another. “I’m not a big sports person but I did talk to a few new people when I was over there,” Lavery said.

According to Flyzik, the overall goal of Orientation is to help first-year students feel comfortable and confident as they adjust to college life. While The Hootie’s Fall Sports Kick Off is different from most Orientation events because it is not a requirement, Flyzik said, “Any quantity we get of students attending this event is a success in the end. Whatever students are there are making a connection to campus and other students.”

Erin McNemar can be contacted at emcnemar@kscequinox.com