Powder Keg: A trip down memory lane

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Each year, once the hype of Foliage Day has subsided and the colors on the trees are just past their peak, the buzz in the community becomes centered around one thing. Powder Keg. At its core, the tradition is based on a rivalry dating back to 1895 with Tilton School. Its history has been documented throughout the years through photographs and newspaper articles. However, if you want to truly understand this tradition and what it means to our community, just ask some students, faculty, parents or alumni and they are sure to share a story or two.

What is your favorite Powder Keg memory?

“I remember the first Powder Keg back after it stopped for all those years. It was 2007, and I remember it was a pretty competitive year. Our field hockey team went into double overtime against Tilton and finally scored on a sudden-death goal! It gave us enough points to win the keg (even though the football team lost ;)” — Kayla DiBari ’08, Academic Support Program, Assistant Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach

“My favorite NHS fall memory was the night before Powder Keg my senior year. The perfect cold fall weather we had for the big bonfire that led to beating Tilton for the keg the next day!!!”  — Torrey Doell ’16 

“That day is awesome! Tons of energy and emotion during the games. A day that everyone wants to be a part of. Honestly, my favorite memory was last year as a teacher. I went over to Palazzi Field with a few co-workers and we were down 2-0 against Tilton with 10 minutes left in JV Soccer. We ended up winning 3-2 and we scored two penalty shots! It was wild over there.” — Connor Gorman ’11, Academic Support Program, Head Men’s Hockey Coach

As a parent, what is it like to cheer on your kids during Powder Keg?

“I loved seeing the tent set up, walking down to the fields, and feeling the energy of the campus and the students. Although it is really neat that we have kept the keg for so long, I have seen the case without the keg in it, which made it extra meaningful when we won the keg back. I also enjoy seeing multiple teams participate. It is really special because when we win, it is really a full community event that brings everyone together. I loved seeing my kids be a part of all the celebration.”  –  Holly Dillon P’15, ’16

Joe Williams, what was your favorite Powder Keg Memory?

“Our first year at NHS we hosted the Powder Keg. We had heard about this great tradition, but had no experience with it so our expectations were high. Following a wonderful Hall of Fame induction ceremony, we headed out to the fields and were so impressed with the fanfare and spirit on display as we fought to retain the cup.

That year it came down to the varsity field hockey game, the last event of the day, under the lights on Kennedy Field. Eileen and I may have appeared calm to people on the exterior, but we are as competitive as they come and did not want to lose the keg in our first year at New Hampton. The game went into overtime and the Huskies prevailed. It was really neat to see all of our students rush the field to celebrate not only the girls’ win but the community victory.

Each year we look forward to this celebration of school spirit, sportsmanship, and togetherness. Last year there was a hilarious mascot dance-off at halftime of the football game. Harry the Husky had some moves that day that definitely would have won us points if they were awarded.” –  Head of School Joe Williams P’22

“It is a great day to be a husky!”  – Eileen Williams P’22, College Counseling Athletic Liaison, Head Softball Coach 

Looking ahead to this year

Many of our alumni share that their greatest memories are during times of victory, hoisting the keg up at the end of the games, and sharing the joy of the win with the community. Alumni from previous decades talk about the heat of the rivalry, the years of loss, and the years where the games were non-existent. In the end, our sportsmanship is tied to the strength of our community. Even when individual teams lose or struggle, parents, students, and alumni alike join together to support their team no matter the outcome.

What will be our next favorite memory from Powder Keg? We’ll have to wait and see what each fall brings. Join us this year on the Tilton School game fields on Saturday, November 9. Come out and support New Hampton as we attempt to keep the keg!

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