Dayna Wichhart– Staff Writer
Defender days back in action.
On Friday, Oct. 15, the campus of Dordt University buzzed with anticipation. Throughout the afternoon, as students finished their final classes of the week, they turned their attention towards the concerts, games and performances of Defender Days. Last year, because of COVID-19, the university canceled the annual parents weekend. This year, the families, friends, and events returned.
“I have never experienced Defender Days before,” Nia Boentoro, a sophomore, said. “But it was interesting to see everyone get hyped about it.”
In years prior, the university held a parents weekend in the fall semester and an alumni weekend in the spring semester.
“That worked well but wasn’t perfect,” Erik Hoekstra, the university president, said.
In 2013, Dordt merged the two events as “an experiment.” They called the new combination “Defender Days.”
This year’s Defender Days weekend kicked off on Friday morning in the B.J. Haan Auditorium where the campus community filled into the building’s rows for chapel. The auditorium, packed with people from across the country and continent, received a message from Dean of Chapel Aaron Baart, who spoke on the importance of the unity of believers.
The mid-October celebration of all things Dordt also marks the fullest weekend for athletics.
On Saturday afternoon, the football team earned a commanding win against Dakota Wesleyan with a score of 43-13.
Across the street, the men’s and women’s soccer teams took on Presentation College. Here, the Defender women posted a 5-0 victory while the men lost 4-2.
On the hardwood, women’s volleyball split their games against Mount Marty and the College of Saint Mary with a win and a loss, respectively.
And, on the ice, the hockey team faced off against Nebraska-Omaha for a high scoring game and an 8-2 victory.
These games provide students an opportunity to share campus life with their families, many of which are alumni.
“My parents are coming from Nampa, Idaho,” Kelsey Evenhouse, a freshman, said. “We were super excited to go to the hockey and football games.”
On Saturday night, the men’s and women’s basketball teams kicked off their season at Late Night with the Defenders in the DeWitt Gymnasium. The after-dark event included scrimmages for the men’s and women’s basketball team, dance performances, and a dunk contest.
Here, Dash the Defender made his debut appearance as well. The official university mascot attended the sporting events throughout the weekend, taking pictures with fans and cheering on the Defenders.
The weekend did not stop with sports, though.
On Friday afternoon, 4th Avenue Jazz choir and band hosted a concert. The concert, peppered with soloists, featured the expression of the musicians and finished with a few combined pieces.
Later that evening, the B.J. Haan filled again as the Fall Music Festival featured more student musicians. The performance marked the opening concert of the year for the band, orchestra, and four choirs. After a year of masked singing, the choir enjoyed the presence of so many audience members and the audience appreciated joyful and spirited music.
The first band to perform was Campus Community Band—a hodgepodge of students and members from the local community. Other ensembles included Chamber Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Bella Voce, a women’s choir, the Canons of Dordt, a men’s choir, Chorale, and Concert Choir. In the final piece of the concert, all the choirs took the stage together to sing a song entitled “Soli Deo Gloria,” written by conductor Ryan Smit.
Because some students’ families live a great distance from Dordt, the weekend offers an opportunity to reconnect after some time apart.
“I was really excited to see my family,” Madeline Hofer, a freshman from Freeman, S.D., said. “They came to see me in the concert.”
Also, the Te Paske theatre opened its doors this weekend for the premiere of Peter and the Starcatcher. The fairy tale comedy musical required students to spend hours rehearsing, preparing, and perfecting the show for an audience. The show, which was performed three times over three days, will remain open during the weekend of Oct. 21-23.
The weekend also included class reunions, a president’s brunch, and alumni sports games.
“By Sunday, we’re all exhausted,” Hoekstra said. “But it’s all worthwhile. Kind of like a massive family reunion.”