Last Saturday afternoon marked yet another year my family and I attended the Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, and Staff Day (FAFSD). This special event—free to members of the UWaterloo community—pitted our beloved Waterloo Warriors’ women’s and men’s basketball teams against the dreaded Mustangs from the University of Western Ontario—err, I mean, Western University (that’s our rival institution’s attempt to rebrand itself to appear more “edgy” and Waterloo-esque). In attending the games, we joined an enthusiastic crowd of Warrior fans to witness some outstanding on court action.
In their final contest of the 2015 season, our women’s team endured a heartbreaking loss as a Western player lofted up a desperate three-pointer at the buzzer to break the tie and seal the victory for her team. The men's game, by contrast, showcased a lopsided Warrior victory during which Myles Charvis, our outstanding starting point guard, put on a clinic, scoring 30 points and dishing out 6 assists. Why more spectators don’t flock to these games, I have no idea. The view is great, parking and admission are cheap, and the action is exciting. It’s good value for your entertainment buck, to be sure. That FAFSD is free makes it even better!
Being a special event, FAFSD treated attendees to several free giveaways and entertainment. Fans received free popcorn, UWaterloo swag, and cookies and hot chocolate. Players signed autographs for adoring young fans. And the half time at each game respectively featured a Monster Hoops Showdown between alumni and staff and the ever popular Airplane Toss, which gave fans a chance to win some really amazing prizes. I even got to participate in a “name-that-tune” contest between quarters when the crowd helped me identify “Uptown Funk” as the song blaring on the audio system. Incidentally, President Hamdullahpur approached me after the game, shook my hand, and questioned why I needed assistance in identifying that song. Who knew he was a Bruno Mars fan?
The games, entertainment, and giveaways aside, the real value of this event is its role in renewing our social bonds as a community. Attending the FAFSD routinely brings me into meaningful contact with colleagues, students, alumni, and retirees. During the event, for example, I connected with seven students of mine who were actively involved in its operations; I marvelled at the student-athletes who represented our school with pride and integrity; I sat and laughed with a friend/colleague while our two families watched the game together; my 7-year old daughter ran around the PAC with a friend/staff member’s daughter as if it were her second home; and I cheered alongside a staff member with whom I competed in (and won) a previous Monster Hoops Showdown.
Through these various interactions, our attendance at FAFSD plays a meaningful role in maintaining our connections to each other, to our campus, and to our shared traditions. Accordingly, it enacts the culturally significant role of simultaneously crafting and expressing community membership and identity. More than a trivial add-on to campus life, then, FAFSD serves as an indispensable intermediary for the fulfillment of community. We discover through our attendance and through our participation in the event that we are a group of people whose lives are linked together in various ways. We are a collective “we” of sorts. We are the University of Waterloo.
Why do I attend FAFSD each year? Because I belong at UWaterloo. I belong to something special. That, and the free swag doesn’t hurt either.