Homecoming Skits on The Hill
Each year, the Fall athletes hone their acting prowess, refresh their Michael Jackson moves, and work on their comedic skills as they come together with fellow teammates in an effort to create a production worthy of a potential Oscar, Emmy, or at the very least, a Teen Choice Award to display in Assembly in the week leading up to Homecoming.
Given that our school has a 356-year history, its traditions are both rich and cherished by all who roam the Hopkins hill. While our goat mascot and our annual Commencement ceremony seem quite conventional, the tradition of outlandish and often hilarious parodies performed by our fall sporting teams is anything but. Yet, each year leading up to Homecoming, the Fall athletes hone their acting prowess, refresh their Michael Jackson moves, and work on their comedic skills as they come together with fellow teammates in an effort to create a production worthy of a potential Oscar, Emmy, or at the very least, a Teen Choice Award. These performances are subsequently displayed to all in Assembly in the week leading up to Homecoming.
The nascence of the Homecoming skit tradition remains unclear. Although many faculty have fond (and not so fond) memories of the parodies, they don’t remember how this tradition commenced. Head Athletic Trainer Don Bagnall said “I have been here for 25 years and don’t know how they were started.” However, it is clear that there has been an evolution of the skits over the years. While twenty years ago all of the productions were acted out live in Assembly, a large majority of them currently are filmed and edited using video. In fact, a brief search on Youtube for “Hopkins Homecoming skits” produces enough material to entertain the viewer for an entire G or H block.
Despite the murky origins, there is clear consensus on the purpose of these sketches and videos. First, they generate enthusiasm and interest for Homecoming. Gerard Casanova, History teacher and Coach of the Girls Varsity Soccer team for the past 23 years, said, “They contribute to Spirit week and bring about a good atmosphere, bring people together and attract more spectators to Homecoming.” Sanaea Bhagwagar ’17 added, “Each and every student feels united in watching the skits, and although their true purpose is to attract fans for their Homecoming games, they instead create a communal sentiment and atmosphere.” Lena Gerritz ’17 said that the skits “are a fun way to celebrate the athletes at Hop because they work very hard all season and they also generate school spirit not only for the team but for the entire school.”
Other Hopkins students have a different perspective about the value of the skits or videos. Andrew Kindseth ’17 believes the best part about the videos is how they reflect the personality of each particular team and its identity. He reminisced about his eighth grade Cross Country team video: “I remember thinking ‘This is us’ and loving the way that it really represented how the sport felt.”
Irrespective of the exact purposes of the productions, many people feel that the skits and videos have unintentional, yet beneficial, outcomes. For instance, Jordan Sebastian ’11, a Hopkins alum and coach of the Hopkins Football Team, loved how the skits “reflect so well on Hopkins’ openness and creative spirit.” In addition, he said that they can “help shy people to come out of their shell to dance and sing in front of the school.” He pointed out that they “bring the teams closer. It forces them to think creatively and collaborate off the field.”
While most who were questioned for this article admit the quality of the parodies varies widely (with some even bordering on inappropriate), many fondly and quickly recall their favorites. Assistant Head of School John Roberts and Casanova pointed to a memorable live team dance to “Thriller;” according to Roberts, “5’ 11” Captain Dennis Briggs came through a fog machine and busted his best Michael Jackson dance moves!” Roberts mentioned that another one of his favorites was a Boys Soccer video that was all about how their team was never allowed to show their video: “The team and I had ‘artistic differences!’ for a few years in a row - it was my feeling that their skits were not ‘fun for the whole family!’ and they were produced literally at the last minute (I would see them for the first time at 7:50 a.m. so there was no chance to make adjustments) so they got chopped. The captains one year came to me and we scripted a video that was all about me saying a violent ‘no’ to every one of their ideas.” Sebastian said that his favorite video was from the Football team in 2011 where “a brave group of young men sang their hearts out and were judged American Idol-style by teammates in front of 700+ students.” Allison Chun ’17 said that her favorite skit “was when the Boys Soccer team shaved Alexander Sernyak’s head in the middle of Assembly...such a crazy, fun-filled moment that I still have not forgotten!”
Regardless of the quality, purpose, or value of the Spirit week skits, it is clear that the productions by the Fall athletes are here to stay. They have become part of the rich traditions of our school which make Hopkins so cherished and unique!