Homecoming Powderpuff 2009: Fair Play and Aerial Assaults

By Dennis Walikainen | Published

Killer Penguins vs. Delta Zeta in 2009 Homecoming powderpuff action.
Killer Penguins vs. Delta Zeta in 2009 Homecoming powderpuff action.

Whistles and cheers echoed in the cool evening air at Sherman Field. The teams ran no-huddle offenses and trick plays with intensity. There were a couple of differences: the cheerleaders were male, some in long dresses, and the players were women.

It was the 2009 edition of the traditional Homecoming Powderpuff football game, and the action was spirited.

“They’re playing fair,” said referee Andrew Bomstad, a fifth-year ME from Menominee, Mich. The most common infraction? Offside.

“The have to say ‘One homecoming, two homecoming,’ up to five, before rushing,” he said.

Eleven teams were assembled, and a few were combinations of a couple of organizations. Some women had to drop out due to a big calculus exam that night.

Delta Zeta sorority and Daddy’s Girls residence hall group, renamed the Killer Penguins, were getting ready to play.

Have you been practicing?

“All of five minutes,” said Laura Woodbeck, a DZ player and biological sciences major from Hancock, Mich. Team captain Sam Neirby, a third-year chemical engineering student from Moorhead, Minn., wasn’t giving up any info about secret plays. “If we tell you, then we’d have to kill you.”

The Killer Penguins captain Christian Hawrysz, a math major from Hesperia, Mich., was not worried about any lack of practice for the tilt.

“Nah, we’re gonna wing it,” she said.

Some rules were different: the teams played sideways on Sherman Field, so they could fit three games at once. An automatic first down was achieved by reaching their fifty-yard line. The flag belts worn by the players were yanked off to down them. There were two eight-minute halves, and ties were settled by a throw-off, where the longest pass by a player won the game for her team.

And passing was prominent in the DZ-Penguin tilt. The Penguins threw the ball so much that they could then pull the old Statue of Liberty play: fake a pass and do a hidden hand-off. They made progress but fell short of the end zone.

Delta Zeta intercepted a couple of times but could only advance short of pay dirt, too.

Meanwhile the cheerleaders attempted a human pyramid with a chant. “Gimme a K to the I to the double-L to the E-R. Killers!”

They almost completed the pyramid before collapsing in a heap of laughter.

The cheerleaders had defensive cheers, too, as the DZs attempted more passes. A couple of footballs were batted around before hitting the turf. The crowd cheered, then groaned.

A nice, long pass was caught, and the receiver was forced out of bounds.

When the Penguins took over again on downs, they were intercepted again.

DZ had yet another deflected pass, sort of aerial pinball, but no touchdown to show for it.

The game ended in a tie, so the women lined up for the throw-off. The Delta Zeta tosser, Mandy Houston, an exercise science major fro Ionia, Mich., threw first, a nice 25-yard toss down the middle. The Penguin thrower, Jordyn Denomme, a construction management major from China Township, Mich., pulled back the pigskin and let loose. Her throw bested the first one by perhaps a foot.

The Killer Penguins advanced in the bracket, much to the relief of the cheerleaders.

For the record, the Women’s Soccer Club won the event, with Theta Chi Epsilon taking second and Orientation Team Leaders third.

And, Homecoming Coordinator Natalie Noha said the reviews for both the competition and location were good.

“Those watching the games were impressed by the athleticism of the women,” she said. “Many of the games were very competitive and were determined by a throw-off. Sherman Field provides the perfect venue for this great Homecoming tradition, and we hope to see teams continue to compete for years to come!”

More information on Homecoming is available here: http://homecoming.mtu.edu

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.