The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Dads Weekend: Live coverage

Friday, 5 p.m.

Out on the Main Quad, students are walking around with their fathers and other family members, enjoying the crisp, cool air. Smiles and laughs are infectious and heartwarming conversations are exchanged between families.

The sidewalks of Green Street are even more crowded than a usual Friday evening — a majority of students are accompanied by their fathers, many of them proudly donning colorful Illinois merchandise. 

Families are taking pictures in front of Alma Mater, with parents standing beside their accomplished college students. 

Teague Cliff, an Illini dad, said he and his daughter were planning on going to the basketball game tonight against Oakland. 

“This is our third Dads Weekend,” he said. “Every Dads Weekend, it’s been a blast. We just have a lot of fun and it’s a lot of dad-daughter time.”

Tomorrow, they’ll head to two tailgates, one before and one after the football game. In the evening, he said he plans that the duo will be hanging out with his daughter’s roommates and their dads. 

Tony Riccio, one of many dads walking around campus town with his daughter, also said that they would be attending the football game tomorrow, along with a tailgate.

“After that, we’re going to an ax-throwing bar,” he said.

“And then dinner and probably more bars,” he added with a laugh. 

 

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Friday, 7 p.m.

The sun has set and families opt to head indoors, away from the cold evening air. At the Illini Union, people spend time together playing laser tag or bowling while some choose to watch the basketball game instead. 

“It’s nice to see them, I think it’s a good time,” said Sam Shelly when asked about their experience with their parents during Dads Weekend. “I showed them around the campus, showed them where I had class and showed them around the arboretum, which is beautiful.”

This year, the New Students & Family Experiences and the LGBTQIA+ Ally Network Training Committee held a social event for families to mingle with each other. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity for families to see their kids, see them in their school environment,” said Jennifer Shelly, an Illini mom. “It’s a chance to check out their campus and engage in some fun activities together as a family.” 

“Every Dads Weekend since I was on the board,” said Chuck Dushman, former president of the Illini Dads Association at the University when asked about his participation in the tradition. He mentioned his numerous plans — to go to both football and basketball games and an a capella concert. 

Despite his daughter having graduated from the University, Dushman said this year is the most special Dads Weekend due to the ribbon cutting for the Illini Dads Centennial Plaza. “It’s the most special Dads Weekend, my wife is here, my daughters are here and it’s the opening of the centennial plaza,” Dushman said. 

 

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Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

On this warm November morning, Grange Grove is a bit busier than usual as the Illini gear up to face the Hoosiers. At the tailgate, students can be seen in orange and blue, alongside their parents who don similar colors. 

Ryder Heit, senior in Engineering, attended the Solar Car tailgate with his dad. They said it was their third annual Dads Weekend together due to Heit’s freshman year being affected by COVID-19.

“It’s great, always a good time, the weather is gorgeous,” Heit said. “The football team is mediocre but (we’re) very excited.”

Last night, Heit and his dad went to Murphy’s Pub, located on Green Street, and noted the popularity of the location. 

“It was very busy last night compared to what it usually is,” Heit said. “There’s more traffic than usual.”

Gracie May, junior in ACES, shared similar observations about the traffic. May, who attended the tailgate with her dad Mike May and her stepmom Kelly May, said Dads Weekend reminded her of Homecoming Week. 

“There’s definitely a lot more people but kind of the same vibe as Homecoming,” May said. 

 

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Saturday, 3 p.m.

In the final moments of the game against Indiana, the score hits 42-42 and goes into overtime. Real-time commentary plays over the speakers in the Illini Union Bookstore for those who haven’t gone to Memorial Stadium to follow along. 

Among those present is Jonathan Theis, senior in Business, who tries on Illini gear while his parents watch. 

“It’s awesome, I definitely look forward to my parents coming here,” Theis said. “We’ve gone to the football game in previous years, it’s fun. It seems like we’re winning right now, it all comes down to this play.”

“We’ve come to Dads Day every year,” said Ellen Theis, his mom. “We’re going to go see the Varsity Men’s Glee Dads Day concert at Krannert after this.”

While in overtime, Illinois finally secures the game-changing touchdown, and the Illini have won. The final score is Illinois 48, Indiana 45.

Hordes of people dressed in orange and blue pass down Green Street, entering shops and restaurants, gathering in groups to chant and celebrate in light of the win. 

One of the students returning from the game is Simone Daly, freshman in AHS. She shared that she and her father went to a hockey game the night before, and had plans to attend a barbecue later in the evening. 

“I think it’s fun to have my dad here, he grew up in Ireland so he doesn’t know anything about American college,” Daly said. 

“I’ve never had that kind of Big Ten American college experience,” said her father, Hugh Daly. “It’s wonderful, I love it, I think it’s my third time down here. Of course, the football game was kind of the center of the weekend. It was great, it was really exciting, the back and forth, and to go to a game with 40,000 or 50,000 people there.”

 

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Sunday, 11 a.m.

 

The smell of pancakes, waffles, bacon and coffee infused the air at the Illini Dads Brunch in the Illini Union. Dozens of dads and their children lined up to get a seat to enjoy their time with one another.

Among the crowd is Madison McKinney, freshman in ACES, who stirred her Starbucks drink while her dad, Scott McKinney, sat next to her. Madison mentioned that she and her dad participated in the Illini Dads 5K run earlier today. 

“It’s been fun that it’s just him and I,” McKinney said. “When my family visits for football games, the entire family comes but I enjoy the time we spent together.”

McKinney added they will spend time together for the rest of the day and her father will return home later.

Mckinney and her dad are not alone in parting, as with the final hours of Dads Weekend wrapping up, many other families are saying goodbye. Raymond Hill, father of Kaylee Hill, junior in Media, explained that it is bittersweet to leave his daughter. 

“I have had fun this weekend spending time with my daughter,” Hill said. “It was good seeing my daughter since she came to school.”

 

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About the Contributor
Jessie Wang, Assistant News Editor
Hi! My name is Jessie and I’m a junior majoring in CS + philosophy. I am an assistant news editor, and this is my third semester with The DI. I’m super excited to be part of our lovely newspaper! Feel free to contact me at my email below if you want to chat.
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