There's no doubt that food certainly has the ability to bring any group of people together. For many of the teams at Penn, postgame tailgates provide a space for friends and family to congregate after a match or meet.
Penn sprint football has long held a tradition of having a potluck, where each family typically brings its own dish or item. The tailgate is set up before each game so that friends and family can enjoy food before the contest starts. After the game, the players come out of the locker room to see a fully set up postgame tailgate.
Junior wide receiver Joshua Trybus believes that the tailgates are representative of the close-knit culture of the team and of the program at large.
“Sprint football definitely has a strong culture with many alumni, friends, and family that help back the team," Trybus said. “The tailgates are another example of just how close the team truly is.
“Everyone’s family contributes to the potluck just as they contribute to the team, so the players can have the best possible experience … and we are very appreciative of that.”
Senior wide receiver Billy Murphy also views these potlucks as being a unique space for all members of the sprint football community to get to know each other.
“It’s really great for the team because we get to form a deeper bond by getting to meet each other’s parents, siblings, cousins, friends from home, grandparents, etc.," Murphy said. "This is something that is unusual in a college relationship. You don’t usually get to meet your friends' families and friends week in and week out."
Murphy also says that the potlucks help to draw even more Penn sprint football fans to their games.
“It’s also makes the trip more worth it for families, friends, and especially young alumni, knowing we will have a big tailgate after the game [that] they can come back to and spend some quality time with everyone.”
Likewise for Penn field hockey, the postgame tailgates require a decent amount of planning, particularly by the captains’ parents, who are in charge of duties such as organizing the food, planning themes, collecting donations from other parents, and keeping track of financing.
Each tailgate always includes drinks, a main course, sides, and desserts. The field hockey players agree that this tradition has, season after season, served as an important way for family and friends to connect with the team after games and to build the Penn field hockey community.
Clearly, these tailgates give family and friends a chance to celebrate the hard work the players have put in on the field, while the players can appreciate all that their family and friends have done to get them here.
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