Covenant College’s Highland games are a greatly loved part of student life, but they are not unique to the community. People who love Scottish culture have celebrated highland games all across the globe for years. The origin of highland games predates recorded history, so it is no surprise that many of its events are integral to the tradition.
Student development makes sure to keep the integrity of the games by incorporating its important features into the event. Seven clans made up of students from each of the four residence halls will compete on the rugby field on April 9.
The seven clans compete to win the claim to the Highland Games sword, which is displayed with a plaque inscribed with the year’s winner in the Blink during the year. This plaque features the names of all the past winners of the games and is the source of plenty of bragging rights and pride.
In the interim between now and the Games, for those individuals or clans who want to practice their events beforehand, there will be training on April 2.
This training is required for the students who participate in the traditional events of the Highland games for safety reasons. For each event, the clan will select one member of their team to represent them. The clan member will be required to wear a kilt for the duration of the traditional event.
There are a total of six events that the judges will score to determine the winner. These include the Brae Mar stone, the Caber toss, the hammer throw, the sheaf toss, tug-of-war, and overall clan spirit. The first four events are throwing events, a measure of the competitor’s strength and agility. These four are individual events, while the last two are team efforts.
The judges may at any time add another event. Last year, they judged clan spirit by having volunteers from each clan do their best Scottish accent. The clan pride is judged by the clan’s fight songs, face paint, team colors, attendance level, and excitement level.
The Brae Mar stone toss is similar to the Olympic track and field event shot put, which involves the competitor throwing a heavy weighted ball in a pushing motion for distance.
The caber toss is another throwing event, except this time it is not a stone that is being thrown, but an upright, tapered log, which the competitor lifts and balances vertically. Then, they toss it as far as they can, so that it strikes the ground and lays flat. The competitors are judged based on the accuracy and distance of the throw.
Next is the hammer throw. A large sledgehammer is thrown similarly to the Olympic event of discus, by hurling it around the head and heaving it over a shoulder. The sheaf toss requires that the representative toss a bundle of straw over a raised bar with a pitchfork. The bar is similar to the one used in the track and field event pole-vaulting. Finally, whole clans participate in the tug of war.
After this event, the crowds cheer, the competitors collapse, and the judges announce the winners.