Behind the scenes of the Defender Days tradition

Georgia Lodewyk — Staff Writer 

Each October, Dordt University welcomes over 1500 families, alumni, and community members for the biggest weekend on campus. The three-day extravaganza, beginning on Thursday, is filled with receptions, fundraisers, breakfasts, concerts, athletic events, dedications, and mainstage productions. The variety serves a very specific purpose: on Defender Days weekend, there is something for everyone. 

But for some, Defender Days lasts a lot longer than one weekend. For Josie Faber, the Signature and Regional Events Coordinator, the planning begins in the Advancement Office as early as June. 

“Those initial meetings are just making sure, getting the schedule to finalize things,” Faber said. 

Faber coordinates with the athletic department and music department, communicating the exact times and schedules of concerts and games. 

“One of the biggest things is the communication that goes on with everybody,” Faber said. 

As Faber finalizes dates and scheduling, the marketing department gets to work, releasing Defender Days information in August. Event and general registration open to the public as Dordt students are getting ready for move-in day. By the start of the semester, advancement has two months left to plan and coordinate more than 20 events. 

Faber works to plan what she calls “The Big Four”: The Connection Breakfast, the Defender Nation Dinner, the President’s Brunch, and the 25th class reunion. 

The Business Connection Breakfast, starting at 6:45 a.m. on Friday, will feature former Dordt professor John Visser as the keynote speaker. Parents, alumni, Sioux Center chamber members, and Dordt business students attend this event as an opportunity for connection, a chance to “rub-elbows” and engage in conversation with the Dordt business community. The Defender Nation Dinner takes place on Friday night and is hosted by the Alumni Council, but Faber handles most of the planning and details. 

Saturday morning takes off with the weekend’s biggest event: the President’s Brunch in the Dordt Recreation Center. At this event, open to parents, alumni, friends, and relatives, Erik and Barb Hoekstra share updates concerning the Dordt campus and community. 

For Faber, this year’s 25th class reunion has been the biggest surprise, with attendance doubling usual expectations. Each event has specific details, plans, and attendees, meaning Faber is in contact with everyone from dining to maintenance to athletics to fine arts. 

This year is Faber’s first year of being the point person for Defender Days. The previous coordinator, Dianne De Wit, worked for 22 years as Dordt’s Signature Event Coordinator before passing the torch to Faber. In her years of planning Dordt’s reunion weekend, De Wit saw the weekend grow and develop into Dordt’s most popular weekend. 

“There are so many details, so many events and so many moving parts,” De Wit said. “It was always fun to work with so many people on campus to make things run smoothly.” 

De Wit remembers many Defender Days, including ones where snow covered the ground. The most memorable was the year “Dordt College” became “Dordt University,” and the new logo was revealed. Regardless of the year, Defender Days is a reunion of families, friends, and community members that have called Dordt home. 

“Dordt has so much to celebrate on this weekend, alumni, students with their families, faculty, and great events,” De Wit said. “I hope everyone is able to sample some of it.” 

Defender days kicks off this year on Oct. 28 with women’s basketball and the fall theater production “Our Town,” which will also give two performances on Saturday. On Friday, guests can attend a special chapel and music concerts, as well as the Defender Nation Dinner. The Ag Facilities dedication will take place Saturday morning, with various speakers from Dordt’s agriculture program. Soccer, volleyball, hockey, and football will all be hosting home games this weekend. Visit Dordt University’s website for the full lineup of festivities. 

Photo credit: Dordt University Athletics

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