The following post, written by Rafael Joseph, first appeared on the student-run news site The USV Chronicle. It has been lightly edited.

USV’s first Medieval Tournament was an absolute delight. The day leading up to the event, the ASB Events Committee was bustling around campus, carrying everything from cardboard castle walls, to balloons, to plastic swords as they hurried to set up for the evening. Most participants arrived in full costume, replacing the hoodies and jeans that usually fill USV’s halls with capes and crowns. The presentation was very well-executed—the Dragon’s Den was adorned with paper festival flags and long tables decorated with the colors of USV’s four noble houses: House Crosby, House Uzzell, House Bogle, and House Thompson. The houses even had unique insignias and mottos, like my personal favorite, house Uzzell’s: “Mightier than the sword.” In the center of the den was a massive cardboard castle structure behind the long table where the ASB Executive Board presided and coordinated the games that took place.

Events Coordinator Connor Anderson and ASB President Joseph Fortuno hosted the event from the castle.

The games were the highlights of the evening. After everyone was randomly assigned a house, the tournament began with tug-of-war. By this point, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the event and felt a little reserved, but after seeing my house (Thompson) just barely win the first game, I was ecstatic. House Thompson went on to win in musical chairs after that, and then we fell behind in the archery tourney, pie-eating contest, and medieval trivia, ultimately achieving second place in the final point tally, just behind House Bogle. After the games, the members of the winning house were awarded four extra raffle tickets each. Second place received three extra tickets each; there were two for third place, and one for fourth place. Raffle prizes won included limited edition Pop! figures, Steam gift cards and free tickets to Great America’s Halloween Haunt. I even won a $20 AMC Movie Voucher!

Kit Ainslie and Wayne Moodie engaged in a game of tug-of-war.

Though there were some familiar faces, most of the other members of house Thompson ended up being students whom I normally don’t get to interact with very often, whether because of difference in concentration, year, or social circle. But regardless, everyone seemed to jump into the team mentality very quickly. I found myself planning with, cheering on and rooting for people who were little more than strangers. I credit this to the strategically-crafted tribal atmosphere in the room; especially the thundering medieval soundtrack playing at all times. Without having to pull teeth, ASB managed to inspire a room of sleep-deprived introverts to not only participate in active competitive games but to crave victory solely for the sake of their teammates. At some point, I forgot what the winning prizes even were, and I was motivated only by the thought of my house ending up on top. Interestingly, when the games were over and everyone was given their extra raffle tickets, it felt uncharacteristically calm, as if the moment of great anticipation had already passed, and the raffle prizes were just a pleasant bonus.

I see this event as one of the most successful USV has had, not necessarily because of the huge turnout (though there were quite a few people) or extensive coverage around the school, but rather because it brought people together organically and revealed the welcoming nature of the USV community. The Medieval Tournament reminded me of one of my favorite things about this school—how easily people of different backgrounds, ages and majors can unify here, if only for a game of pie-eating or archery.

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