Senior Gotcha: The Long Standing Tradition

By Mia Sarris, Staff Writer

Staking out in front of someone’s house. It’s 8:30 p.m. and the sun has just set. You and your teammates are armed and waiting for your opponent to come home from practice. Ducking at every set of headlights you come into contact with, you begin to lose hope. Almost an hour has passed and you feel as though you’re wasting your time. You could’ve been studying for the AP Calculus test you have tomorrow. Suddenly, your opponent rounds the corner. Now’s your chance. Creeping out of your car, you and your teammates have locked eyes on your target. Moving closer and closer, until boom! You’re hit. Your opponent’s teammate had the same idea as you. And just like that, you’re out of the game.

This is the reality of Gotcha, a long-standing unofficial senior tradition that spans back over 30 years at West. The game of Gotcha is a NERF-gun war between teams of three. In this bracketed-style tournament, each week two teams would face off head-to-head. The teams with the most “hits” against their opposing team would advance to the next round. If both teams did not get the chance to “hit” one another, or if there was a tie between teams, a shoot-out would occur at the end of the week. A shoot-out consists of both teams facing each other on an even playing field. Whoever hits the opposing team first, wins the round.

Other rules of the game include only using foam NERF-gun bullets, no physical touching of your opponent, and underclassmen are not allowed to participate with you at any time. Kidnapping or car chasing is allowed as long as both teams agree prior to the start of your round. Lastly, no shooting on any school-owned property, workplaces, places of worship, or inside any home or public facility.

Around 46 teams competed this year for the total prize pot worth around $1,500.

Due to such large stakes, many teams will go to great lengths to stay in the game. Having a solid strategy helped senior Arijan Dibra make it into the finals. “Our game strategy mostly consisted of going early in the mornings because our opponents would least expect it,” Dibra said.

One of this year’s organizers, senior Jillian Rudin, thinks that students participated for several reasons. “I think most students wanted to play either for fun or because of the money,” Rudin said.

This annual tradition has sparked interest for siblings of alumni. “I wanted to play Gotcha because my older siblings played and they had a lot of fun. It also seemed like a fun school tradition to be part of,” Dibra said.

Alumni Murphymaeve Holleran shares her thoughts on the Gotcha legacy. “The Gotcha tradition is a way to bring the senior class together one last time before we graduate. If it is executed correctly it is a lot of fun. But it often gets very very competitive which makes it fun but also causes a lot of drama,” Holleran said.

Gotcha remains a staple in the list of senior traditions; it is something every future Niles West senior will be able to look forward to. Gotcha is the last big chance at bringing the senior class together to have a little fun, one last time before the wolves leave the pack.