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The Dartmouth
April 13, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Athletes celebrate Homecoming weekend and ‘Dartmouth Night’ Tradition

From Oct. 20 to 22, Dartmouth varsity sports teams came together to celebrate the bonfire tradition, watch the Homecoming football game and catch up with team alumni.

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No students attempted to touch the Homecoming bonfire this year.

From Oct. 20 to 22, the Dartmouth community came together to celebrate Homecoming Weekend and welcome the Class of 2027. For Dartmouth’s nearly 1,000 student-athletes, Homecoming provided a chance to bond with teammates and connect with former players and other alumni.

The weekend featured many festivities, including the annual bonfire and parade, spirit stations and several Big Green athletic competitions. Homecoming weekend was headlined by the Big Green football game on Saturday afternoon. 4,188 spectators weathered the elements to cheer on the Big Green, propelling them to a 20-9 comeback victory over Columbia University, according to Dartmouth Sports. 

According to the Dartmouth campus website, ‘Dartmouth Night’ is the evening that kicks off Homecoming Weekend with events including the bonfire and various members from the Big Green community will speak on the steps of Dartmouth Hall. 

Notably, this year marked the first time since 2018 that the Dartmouth Night speakers spoke from the steps of Dartmouth Hall, following COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and the renovation of Dartmouth Hall in 2021 and 2022.

Macklin Ayers ’24 is a Big Green linebacker and one of four team captains for Dartmouth’s football team this season. The football captains chose him to represent their group on the steps of Dartmouth Hall and deliver a Dartmouth Night speech. 

Dartmouth Night speeches are primarily about “what Dartmouth means to you, what the community means to you, and welcom[ing] the ’27s into that community,” according to Ayers. 

“It’s a blessing to be able to speak to that  because it does mean a lot to me,” Ayers said.

Although Ayers’ class, the Class of 2024, didn’t have a bonfire at their first-year Homecoming celebration due to COVID-19, he looked back fondly on past Homecoming weekends, including his sophomore year bonfire.

“It’s something I’ll never forget — [it was] way bigger than I could have ever imagined … I didn’t even see any videos beforehand, so I was amazed,” Ayers said. It’s something I’ll remember forever, and it’s just a great atmosphere.”

Caroline Lemcke ’27, a women’s tennis player, reflected on the bonfire tradition and the moments she will remember with her team.

“I was with my two other teammates who are also freshmen, and we stuck with each other,” Lemcke said. “It was a lot of fun for us because we went and tried to find our teammates and our coaches.”

Other Homecoming Weekend events, such as the football game, allow sports teams to bond in a different setting.

Lemcke cheered on the Big Green at the football game on Saturday with fellow members of the women’s tennis team.

“We also saw some of the alumni who had played on the tennis team,” Lemcke said. “It was fun to kind of talk with them and see how they’re doing and talk about their experiences on the team and years past.”

Ayers also said he liked connecting with alumni during Homecoming weekend and that they are a great support for him and the football team.

Homecoming helps excite athletes for their upcoming seasons as well, reminding them of the support they have from fans of the Big Green.

Steven Townley ’25, a forward and assistant captain on the men’s hockey team, valued the chance Homecoming Weekend provided for athletes to connect with the Dartmouth community.

“When we’re in season, you get into a little bubble where you’re always with the team, and I think it’s really nice for us to be able to walk around and enjoy the community that is Dartmouth,” Townley said.

Townley also enjoyed seeing members of the wider Hanover community at the bonfire.

“It’s a really cool experience, walking around,” Townley said. “There’s young kids, they’re cheering us on. So I think in that sense, it was really memorable.”