By Abram Erickson
Just because students are away from home doesn’t mean they don’t get excited for the Super Bowl. All around campus on Sunday night, students gathered with friends to celebrate the big game. Some were in it for the football, others for the food and some just for the commercials. What was common across the board, however, was the way the game brought people together.
Festivities on campus actually began well before the Los Angeles Rams kicked off to the New England Patriots to start Super Bowl LIII at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday night in Atlanta. Bon Appétit got the weekend off to a great start with their annual Super Bowl party on Friday night in Anderson Commons. Students were treated to a spread of game day food like wings, sliders and nachos, followed by a giveaway that saw multiple gift baskets and a Vizio TV raffled off to students.
On the day of the game, students prepared for kickoff, stocking up on snacks to last them throughout the evening. Just before the game started, at around 5:15 p.m., the line in front of The Stupe swelled well past its normal length as students attempted to grab dinner before the game began.
Some students retreated to their rooms to watch with smaller groups of close friends, while others attended one of the multiple parties happening around campus, like those held at Fischer and Smith-Traber Halls. One other Super Bowl party, brand-new this year, was put on by THE U in collaboration with World Christian Fellowship and the Class Chaplains.
Held in the Phelps Room in the Lower Beamer Center, senior Jaelin Goldsmith, one of the lead organizers of the event, told me that somewhere from 50 to 60 students attended to catch the game and the worship service that followed. Originally seen as simply another Super Bowl party for students to attend, it was Student Chaplain of Leadership Development Brennan Burrows who Goldsmith said had the idea to make the party a worship night as well. “Brennan kind of challenged me, and said ‘Bro, we’ve got to have a service afterward,’” Goldsmith said.
THE U, which stands for Together Here Eternally United, is a campus organization focused on ministering to students here on Wheaton’s campus. “We’re striving to be one of the main on-campus ministries,” Goldsmith explained. “We felt that Wheaton students do a lot of things, ministry-wise, off-campus. Now that’s not bad. If you’re called to go into the high school realm … more power to you. But we [Goldsmith and Danny Freed, Wheaton ‘18, currently a youth pastor at Grace Church in Chaska, Minn.] really wanted to create a ministry specifically that goes back into our campus.”
THE U also strives to live out Acts 2:42, their foundational verse, which reads, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” This verse provides the four pillars that Sunday’s event, and all of THE U’s events, seek to bring to students: teaching, fellowship, food and prayer.
The Super Bowl provided the grounds for fellowship, while THE U, the Class Chaplains and WCF provided the food. After the game ended and the confetti finished streaming down on the field, freshman Class Chaplain Jordan Burton spoke and gave his testimony before Burrows and Julia Primuth led worship. After that, they wrapped up the night with prayer.
As for the Super Bowl itself, many found it to be underwhelming, though it was a historic night. With the Patriots winning 13-3 in a defensive battle, not only was the game the lowest-scoring in Super Bowl history, but it also saw Patriots quarterback Tom Brady earn his sixth Super Bowl ring, the most obtained by any NFL player.
While the game in Atlanta may have been disappointing to some, on Wheaton’s campus, the community didn’t disappoint. “It turned out to be a pretty good night. I would say everyone that was there would probably say that the service was better than the game,” Goldsmith joked. “And the worship was probably better than the halftime show.”