SportsFest returns to UM after two year hiatus

The University Village team face off against the Lakeside team during the SportsFest basketball tournament. Photo credit: Michael Mok

The annual University of Miami SportsFest was hosted from Feb. 11-12 after a COVID-19 hiatus in 2021, with the newest residential college, Lakeside Village, taking the victory.

Established in 1986, UM’s 36-year tradition features a diverse array of competitions between the residents of Hecht, Stanford, Mahoney, Pearson and Eaton residential colleges, the University Village, off-campus commuters and now Lakeside Village.

The spirited weekend of competition features games including laser tag, flag football, basketball, soccer, Mario Kart and Smash Bros.

“It was more fun than I thought it would be,” said first-time SportsFest participant Omari Lewis, a sophomore resident of Mahoney majoring in mechanical engineering. “I had a lot of fun and one of the best parts was that I got to meet new people and bond with them.”

Hecht residents celebrate their win on the basketball courts following the SportFest basketball tournament.
Hecht residents celebrate their win on the basketball courts following the SportFest basketball tournament. Photo credit: Michael Mok

Freshman nursing major Janice Chukwu said she is already excited for next year’s SportsFest.

“I had a lot of fun and can’t wait to participate again in next year’s SportsFest,” Chukwu said.

Also a first-timer of this weekend’s fun and games, Chukwu said SportsFest was a great way to build community among campus residents and commuter students. She said that she especially enjoyed the friendly and healthy competition of flag football.

“Even though we were competing against each other, the competitors gave all the residential colleges a chance to work as a team and enjoy each other’s company,” Chukwu said.

Lakeside Village, the latest addition to SportsFest’s roster, took home the trophy this past weekend. Lakeside resident Sophomore Esther Cusnir, majoring in industrial engineering, said the big win came as a shock to her and the Lakeside team.

“We didn’t think that we were actually going to win,” Cusnir said. “Second place went to Stanford, which we thought was going to win and then they announced our names and we literally went crazy”

According to Cusnir, Lakeside Community assistants started a new tradition in honor of the win.

“All the CA’s jumped into the fountain by the business school and took a bunch of pictures,” Cusnir said. “That is now going to become a tradition. It’s gonna outlive all of us in Miami.”

Of all the competitions, Cusnir said laser tag was the most exhilarating and energetic.

“It was so much fun, just like a blast, I don’t even know how to describe it. It was just so much energy people were yelling and shouting,” Cusnir said.

Although SportsFest finally returned to campus, students were still required to follow university COVID-19 protocol, with mask mandates and limited attendance at all indoor events.

“We couldn’t support our team members that were participating in indoor sports because of capacity, and there couldn’t be any spectators indoors which wasn’t as fun, but we got through it,” Cusnir said.

Third-year SportsFest participant and senior political science major Devin Foster said he is happy that the weekend-long competition has finally returned, regardless of any changes forced by COVID-19.

“It was good seeing everyone able to come together and play, especially in my last year and last SportsFest,” Foster said. “While it was a little sad to have a smaller scale because of COVID-19, I was glad that we were still able to have the event.”

The events commenced on Thursday night with the traditional torch run around Lake Osceola and opening ceremonies at the Lakeside Patio.

The athletic competitions kicked off Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. as students put their virtual driving skills to the test in the classic Mario Kart video game before transitioning into soccer in the evening.

On Saturday, participants across the residential colleges battled to claim the trophy and earn the title of SportsFest champions. Knockout, Basketball, Smash Bros, laser tag, dodgeball, table tennis, cornhole, flag football and tug of war filled out the jam-packed day of competition.

At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the closing ceremonies commenced and the winner was announced, marking the official end of another successful year.

“SportsFest was something we all needed,” said Josh Mims, a freshman Mahoney resident majoring in biochemistry and nutrition.“Being able to be hype and competitive with your teammates was something I really missed during COVID-19. The energy was there and overall it was such a great experience.”