Delinquent '08 recounts rushing the field

by Jennifer Garfinkel | 10/21/05 5:00am

Will Ryan '08 hesitated momentarily as Dartmouth fans chanted, "Rush the field! Rush the field!" As he jumped over the fence and took off running, the chanting grew to screaming, roaring, and shouting. He knew he had made one of the best decisions he'd ever make at Dartmouth College: he was rushing the field at the Homecoming game in front of hundreds of frenzied fans.

"Honestly, once I was on the field, the only thing I could think of was how amazing it felt," Ryan said. "I wasn't thinking of consequences, the future, nothing."

Up until the day of the Homecoming football game, Ryan had only a vague idea of what rushing the field was all about " but he liked the sound of it.

"I wasn't sure what it entailed or what it meant," he said.

Ryan spent Homecoming weekend asking people around campus " friends, strangers " if they would rush the field, attempting to gage people's opinions of the idea. Bewildered freshmen thought he might follow through with the infamous tradition, but it was not until Ryan woke up on Saturday morning that he decided for sure.

"'Yes, I'm going to do it,'" he told himself.

Although Ryan faced consequences for his actions, he does not regret rushing the football field at all. In fact, he said he would recommend it to this year's freshmen, going as far as to say that they should send him a Blitzmail message beforehand to discuss it.

"It was one of the most fun, defining moments of my life," he said.

Ryan, who counted the police officers on the field as he waited near the Harvard bleachers, knew he could not escape all twelve officers. His hope, however, was that enough people would rush the field and the officials would not be able to catch everyone.

"I was hoping maybe I could start a chain reaction," Ryan said. "I was an ignorant freshman, I know better now."

Because he was alone, Ryan had no choice but to turn himself over to the sheriff waiting for him on the Dartmouth side of the field. As Safety and Security officers are told not to run after field-rushers, Ryan said that last year he saw two officers catch the incident on camcorder and proceed to laugh while replaying the video.

Hanover Police summoned Ryan to a court day during which he was charged with criminal trespassing -- a violation, which is lower than a misdemeanor.

"It wasn't scary or hostile or anything," Ryan said of his experience in court. "It was totally chill."

The judge gave Ryan the same fine that field-rushers receive each year and the violation can potentially be removed from his permanent record after one year.

"The judge and the prosecutor almost found it funny," Ryan recalled. "They were kind of laughing through the whole thing. Since I was caught upholding a 'tradition,' they also gave me the 'traditional' penalty."

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