On May 3-4 the UTS Sports and Culture Peace Festival, known traditionally as the “Sports-fest,” was held at the Barrytown campus. The annual event attracted families and youth from throughout the region. Some traveled from as far as Binghamton NY, western Massachusetts, and central New Jersey to attend the festivities here at UTS. This year’s “Sports-fest” also helped in the preparation and support of the Mini-Global Peace Festival to be held in New York City on May 23-25 and the National Global Peace Festival in Washington D.C. later this summer.
The weekend was divided into two parts: athletic competition on Saturday, May 3, and the celebration of a culture of peace on Sunday, May 4. Nearly 100 athletes came to compete in tournaments for table tennis, volleyball, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, and soccer. The games were very competitive, as each team sought to bring victory for their respective regions. The soccer matches were exciting to watch as the four teams competed hard to earn the title of this year’s soccer champion. The four teams were composed of players representing Ulster Community College, Kingston, U.C.Youth Ministry, and UTS. The championship game was thrilling as UTS students cheered for the home team against a very strong and organized Ulster Community College club team. The match was won in the final 5 minutes as players from Ulster scored 3-1 against a very determined UTS team. The teams congratulated each other on a fine game as the UTS soccer club presented the championship trophy to the winners.
In basketball, four teams representing Red Hook, Upstate, NYC, and the UTS Basketball Club faced off in a fast-paced tournament with much pride on the line. The 5x5 format allowed for fast-breaks, desperation three pointers, good defense, and last second buzzer beaters. The championship game was between teams representing NYC and Red Hook. In the end, although Red Hook put forth a valiant effort, the NYC team proved too strong and took home the championship trophy.
In ultimate Frisbee, teams from West-Rock Family Church and Red Hook squared off against each other to liven a long-standing rivalry. After nearly an hour of fierce competition, the team from West-Rock clearly was the dominant team as they took home the championship. This strong rivalry continues until next year’s tournament.
In volleyball, the UTS volleyball club made a very strong showing led by Mr. Emanuel Tanui. They defeated a talented Red Hook Youth Ministry team to take the championship trophy. West-Rock Youth Ministry took home the 3rd place prize.
Table tennis was just as exciting, with 24 players participating. Organized by Mr. Joe Raucci and sponsored by the UTS Table Tennis Club, the tournament took a life of its own as each point became critical in advancing to the championship round. Mr. Tae Suk Jung won the championship game over Sung Joon Carlson while David Raucci came in third.
The trophy presentation capped a fun-filled and physically exhausting sports tournament as the spirit of competition and sportsmanship helped show that sports could play an important role in creating a culture of peace. Immediately after the presentation, Kenshu Aoki and Akiko Ikeno, two very dynamic youth leaders, shared passionately about the vision and hope for the coming Global Peace Festivals. The energy they brought helped many catch the same vision and dream of bringing people representing the many faces of humanity together under the banner of peace and family. The evening ended with a public showing of the recent movie “The Golden Compass” in the new dining room.
Sunday May 4 was a day for fellowship, learning, and celebration. UTS president, Dr. Tyler Hendricks, started things off with a morning address in the main chapel sharing on the success of the current mega-churches and pointing out what we can learn from their work. For the regional Sunday service, held in conjunction with the Mid-Hudson Valley Family Church, the local youth ministry, led by Mr. Kenji Toyomura, put together an amazing and inspiring skit incorporating the many talents of the youth group. Mr. Robert Pumphrey, UTS student in the Masters of Divinity program, delivered an uplifting sermon about overcoming the challenges we face everyday.
After lunch, the more festive and family nature of the weekend began. Various other UTS clubs were busy sharing about their work and activities throughout the year with the community. The UTS Theologians’ Club invited everyone to participate in a presentation about the meaning of interfaith today. The Fishing Club displayed pictures from this year’s fishing tournament. The Japanese Club taught children how to make origami while the Calligraphy Club used the large conference dining room to display much of their artwork. The Parents’ Association prepared wonderful games for the children like three-legged races, ball toss, and even an exciting tug-of-war that ended in a tie. Ms. Gillian Corcoran who oversees the Peace Sanctuary at UTS prepared the Labyrinth for people to walk through. The Music Club, led by Mr. Goto, entertained the crowd with songs and the Tongil Moo-Do Club held their belt promotion test that day. Club members gave an amazing demonstration showcasing their martial arts skills and technique. They also invited a local Tae Kwon Do instructor, who won the children over with his creativity and humor in teaching martial arts.
The weekend was truly a time to play, learn, and share with our families, our neighbors, and other communities in the culture of peace. Whether through sports, the arts, entertainment, or games we can all contribute to the vision of peace. That was the goal of this year’s Sports and Culture Peace Festival and hopefully the same spirit can gain momentum for this year’s Global Peace Festivals.
We thank all the students, staff, youth ministers, and families who offered their time and support in making this a memorable and exciting weekend.