This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the ever-so controversial tradition of Cheaton Cup. This annual hockey game expresses the rivalry between two campus residences, Eaton and Chipman. Many people choose to remember this day as one to forget; long-lasting parties, front lawns stained with solo cups, swinging fists over shirt colors, the list goes on. What people don’t remember is the history of the game, the school spirit, the precautions we take to ensure student safety and most importantly, the charitable donations which this game collects year after year. Just as in life, those who want to concentrate on the negatives will always be able to find them. Hopefully, we can look past the few bad apples who bring these negatives too light and focus on the countless positive outcomes of this timeless tradition.
Since the beginning of time there has been a rivalry between Eaton and Chipman. The on-campus antics which took place between these two houses we’re in good spirits, but commonly taken too far. Out of character for nineteen-year-old boys? I’d say no. Twenty-years ago we we’re at the point where guys would just walk twenty steps to the opposing house just to vandalize it. There would be fights between groups of guys in opposing houses due to a combination of ego and liquid courage. What a poor excuse for house pride, simply stupid. In order to channel this energy a hockey game was proposed. One game, each house handpicks their best team, leave it all on the ice kind of mentality. This game was started by Steve Hassapis who, at the time, was head of both houses. Steve is now the Coordinator of Student Community Development and handles the non-academic judicial process. Most students probably just know him as the guy you do not want to get a letter from. After a conversation with Steve I was able to put in perspective of how far this event has come. The very first game, Cheaton Cup 1996, was a pleasant disaster. With a grand total of three authoritative figures, two referees and an overwhelming amount of students. It ended in an on-ice team brawl which carried through to the crowd, absolute chaos. On a positive note, the event was able to generate around $1000 which went towards feeding those in need, in Wolfiville, in its very first year.
Since then the transformation has been unbelievable. Incidents at the game itself have diminished entirely. The crowd has been limited to solely Acadia students, and others who personally request to attend. Students stream in from either side of town to support their chosen residence anticipating a good, old-fashion hockey game. The arena is littered with rent-a-cops, yellow jackets, events staff, organizers and representatives from the chosen charities (L’Arche and the SMILE program.) too ensure a safe and controlled event. There have been multiple provisions which have been put in place to promote the positive, healthy environment which the game initially intended.
We recently had representatives from our Student Union, Ted Higa and Jess Boone, give a presentation outlining four helpful hints for Cheaton-day participants. The ASU is offering free food, half an hour before the game because as many people forget, lack-of-food hurts in drinking situations. It’s a lesson we are trying to teach without the need for experiencing it. Another tip was outlining the pace of the day. Too often we see people get overly excited because they’ve got a beer in their hand before noon and their mother still in another province. The day is not a sprint. It is not a marathon. It is a jog at your own pace, for however long you feel like stretching your legs. The third tip was one which I believe is unbelievably important, and commonly overlooked. We need to watch out for one another. Over-consumption is sketched into the human DNA, and it will happen to those who aren’t careful. So, be a good friend, or a good neighbor at least. If you see someone over-the-top pissed, take them home. Regardless if they admit it at the time, it will be appreciated. Ted and Jess also warned students of the consequences which unfortunately happen time after time again during Cheaton cup. The fines for underage drinking, open liquor, drunk tank experiences and others. In conclusion, they are all expensive and two-hundred percent never worth it. Be smart.
After looking at all of these ways in which we, the students, can make this an enjoyable, safe and memorable event – you still may be asking yourself, why? I’m going to give my personal reason, hoping that you will appreciate the first hand benefits charitable donations can give. The Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience Program is a free, predominantly student-run organization. A vast amount of their funding every year comes from Cheaton cup. Last year it generated nearly $5000 dollars to split between itself and L’Arche Homefires, a community of homes helping people with disabilities. This year was the first time I became involved in the S.M.I.L.E program as a volunteer. I was fortunate enough to be partnered with my new friend Owen. Owen has cerebral palsy, and has very restricted fine motor movements. During our first day, we were unable to go swimming so we spent the morning in the Snoezelen Room. To my disappointment we had a limited amount of games that he could play. We got out an ancient, homemade ramp, eight bowling pins, and an assortment of spheres, one bowling ball, one tennis ball and a soccer ball. We took turns rolling the balls down the ramp and celebrating wildly every time we were able to knock some pins down. You knew it was a good throw when you saw Owen’s face light up before the ball even left the ramp. But, the ramp has decayed from its years of service in the SMILE games room, giving us difficulty during every roll. The balls were either deflated or warped. As far as pins go, I guess all eight of them we’re simply perfect. We bowled happily for about twenty minutes, we didn’t even give him the opportunity to get a strike.
This year, the Twentieth Anniversary of this great hockey game, we hope to generate more money for these local causes. So when we think about this day, let’s try not to focus on the negatives. Forget the parties, the early wakeup, and the trash the next day. Think about where this has come from, what it has become and why we do it. Myself, along with many other students believe that Cheaton Cup is more than just what it is rumored to be. This is an annual opportunity; an opportunity to bond with one another, an opportunity to show our town some maturity, an opportunity to continue this well-intentioned tradition, and for myself – an opportunity to show Owen what a strike feels like. So let’s take advantage of this opportunity and make this year another success and keep Cheaton Cup alive for years to come.