Nyiah Gesink — Staff Writer
Students filed in, eagerly signing their names on the roster before finding their seats in Dordt University’s De Witt Gymnasium. Chatter filled the gym as the students discussed the possibility of one of them winning the big prize: a $1,000 Under Armour gift card.
While attendees filled the atmosphere with excitement and anticipation, it’s difficult not to compare this Tip-Off to previous years. Typically, this event happens on Friday during Defender Days and would start around 10 p.m. after a music performance. Late Night with the Defenders has been a long-standing and beloved tradition.
“When I played here, it was really late at night. We started at, like, midnight, but it was still always a full house,” Kyle Lindbergh, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, said.
This year, Dordt held the event on Saturday, Oct. 15 after a home football game. Instead of starting late at night, the event began around 5 p.m. This year’s changes happened because Dordt basketball has an away game during Defender Days. Football, soccer, hockey, and volleyball are all scheduled for home games that week.
Despite the changed time, student attendance remained high. There were many competitions, including a dunk contest, knock-out, and a race for the $1,000 prize.
Although many students thought the winner would be randomly chosen from the roster they signed, the organizers had a different idea.
Standing in front of the crowd, four students from the list were chosen to come to the floor and compete for the prize.
To win, they were told to make a lay-up, free throw, three-pointer, and half-court shot in under 30 seconds. None of the competitors accomplished this task, so they played a sudden death game consisting of shots from the volleyball line.
Jackson Stahl, a sophomore elementary education major, came out on top. The Defender basketball team rallied around him, presenting him with a large check and pats on the back.
“Definitely one of the top ten moments of my life,” Stahl said. “It was exciting. It felt like a lot of school spirit, and it was cool to see the same guys you go to class with on the basketball team.”
Despite the high turnout, students only packed half the gym. In years past, both sides of the gym have been full.
Senior dance team member and business administration major Payton Oostenink remembers Late Night as one of the highlights of Defender Days. The Defender dance team usually performs a routine with the men’s basketball team and does their state hip-hop routine at the end of the event. Last year, Dordt also announced Dash the Defender as a new mascot.
This year, the dance team performed first. Showing the crowd what they’ve been working on brought a fun atmosphere, but most dancers didn’t stay till the end of the event.
“We performed first, and we had a whole four-hour football game before it, so we were all just exhausted,” Oostenink said. “So we all left.”
Having Late Night Tip-Off as a stand-alone event during Defender Days has proven to have higher attendance with both students and community members. It ends Defender Days by bringing the campus together to express school spirit in a last hoorah to the weekend. While it is unclear when Tip-Off will be held next year, many people are gunning for the tradition of Late Night to return to its regular time slot.