The return of the Highland Games — LA CORNEMUSE

The day before the event, Backyard Rebellion, an organization known for coaching Scottish sports and holding its own Highland Games, came to Covenant and trained students. Students learned to compete in five sports: open stone, shot put for distance, shot put for height, hammer throw and caber toss. Even with only one day of practice, the students caught on quickly and competed the next day with an impressive amount of skill.

The Highland Games began with Drew Lucas descending from Carter to the intramural field playing the bagpipes. On the field, the students were organized into two clans, sporting blue face paint and lots of checks, diamonds and even kilts, while bagpipe music blared in the background. “The kilts and the bagpipe music added a sense of Scottish ancestry there,” said Jenna Schoon ’25, who came to watch the games.

The two competing clans were Ithafield and MacDougall. The Ithafield clan was made up of a group of Andreas students whose clan was named after the two men’s rooms in their dormitory.

The other clan was MacDougall. “We were Clan MacDougall to Dr. MacDougall. We were trying to honor him, because this is his last semester at Covenant,” contestant Jackson Ellison ’24 said. Dr. Dan MacDougall is a beloved professor of biblical and theological studies who taught at the college for twenty-nine years.

After the opening bagpipe march and introductions, the games began. Competitors began with the Open Stone, Weight for Distance and Hammer Throw events. The hammer throw event was a favorite of the competitors.

“I loved the hammer throw. It was great. The sport has a unique movement, and it’s a bit difficult to understand,” Ellison said. Aly Davis ’22 also enjoyed this part of the games. “My favorite part was definitely the hammer throw, especially because I practiced it a lot in the practice event. I also threw it the farthest for women – thirty-eight feet and seven inches,” she said.

When the first three events were over, the games took a break. Competitors and students enjoyed a barbecue lunch prepared by Covenant Dining. Meanwhile, the crowd was treated to a history lesson in Highland dancing. Two Highland dancers then led a demonstration, and competitors and guests were invited to try their hand at the dance. Shoes fell off, several people lost their balance and everyone was laughing. The Georgia Falconry Association also attended the games, and they brought an owl and a falcon for guests to watch.

After the break, the competition ended with the last two events: Weight for Height and the Caber Toss. Caber Toss is a sport that requires a lot of training and skill and was particularly challenging for competitors. “Nobody was able to do that,” Davis said.

All competitors and guests enjoyed watching the Highland Games. For Schoon, the games gave him a sense of familiarity. Schoon’s mother is from Scotland and Schoon has visited Scotland several times and his family lives throughout the UK. She even attended the real Highland Games.

“It was fun to see some of the games I had seen at the real Highland Games about 8 years ago in Scotland… The different games [at Covenant] were interesting and I loved being able to compare them to the ones I had seen in Scotland,” said Schoon. However, the best part for Schoon was the sense of belonging she felt watching the event. “I miss my extended family who are scattered across Scotland and England, so the Highland Games gave me a sense of peace I’ve been waiting for despite the homesickness that seemed to be setting in.”

Despite the positive feedback from the event, students recognize that there is also room for improvement. The first is to raise awareness of the event next year to increase the number of competitors and guests. Due to the three-year hiatus, the only people on campus who remembered the Highland Games were older people, so fewer people competed and attended than expected. “I wish there had been more participation from people doing it, but it was still really fun to watch,” Tyneisha Herring ’25 said.

Ellison thought of an idea that could involve more students. “I think it would be really cool if it was done as a start. Involve first-year students. For example, welcome to Covenant, that’s what we do. Start the semester off right,” Ellison said.

Overall, the Highland Games provided fellow students with a unique way to compete, learn new sports and enjoy a slice of Scottish heritage. It was a fun and promising event, which has the potential to be a Covenant classic again.


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Jennifer R. Strohm