Seniors make a splash with water wars

Arianna Palushaj, Reporter

A new tradition for Utica seniors, water wars forces its participants to “say goodbye to their freedom” as they watch their backs for incoming water. At stake is a massive jackpot for many teenagers – $360 to be split amongst team members.

Thirty six senior teams have gone head-to-head in order to strike each other out with water guns, water bottles, water balloons, and hoses. The competition, which is not school-sponsored, contains a strict set of rules that each team has to follow in order to qualify to play the game, including posting pictures of eliminated players on the official game Twitter, @2018WaterWars.

“The game is truly not fun if you’re not honest and don’t follow the correct rules,” senior Sandrew Maroof said. “It’s not hard to follow rules, and I feel like people should focus on having a good time and being safe.”

Each year the game has two separate individuals running it and providing rules and weekly brackets. This year’s leaders are Melanie Habib and Reagan Richardson. However, according to the leaders and participants, there’s been no shortage of controversy with the rules.

“It is a minor stressful job, but very fun at the same time,” Richardson said. “One major issue we’re having is that people are finding different ways to find loopholes in the rules to the point where it’s starting to not become fun anymore.”

The competition is becoming more difficult as the bracket gets smaller and as each team is losing more players.

“So far, the game has been hectic with people not wanting to be out when they actually are,” Habbib said. “By the second week, everyone started to get the hang of it and it’s been going pretty well.

In order to eliminate other teams, a structured game plan is necessary. Teams spend hours planning, waiting, and preparing to eliminate one another.

Senior Cassidy Hough executed an epic elimination of her friend on an opposing team, senior Erika Egnatoski, after a birthday celebration that had a cease-fire in water wars activity.

“My team and our opponents had a birthday dinner to attend one night. We made an official contract stating that we weren’t allowed to get one another out during the [dinner],” Hough said. “I asked one of my opponents to drive me to the dinner because I was having car troubles.”

Hough left the car unlocked, allowing senior Grace Veenstra to hide in the trunk to get Egnatoski out after the designated time.

“As soon as she put the car in park, I yelled [our] code word to [Veenstra] in the trunk,” Hough said. “She popped out of the trunk and shot her with her water gun and we immediately ran. I felt so bad.”

Water wars is not school-sanctioned and cannot be played on school property, before, during, or after the official school day, due to the nature of the game. Many of the tools used in the game can be considered weapons, and players often take to engaging in risky behaviors in order to win.

Because of participant behavior, there has recently been some disputes between the Shelby Township Police Department and Utica and Eisenhower students in water wars.

“It has gotten to the point where students are making it very dangerous,” Shelby Township Police Officer Jim Malczewski said.

“We just recently had a student trespassing on somebody else’s property to get another kid. I feel like kids are really getting risky with this game. I think it’s gone to a whole new level that it’s not safe. Once you start going into other people’s properties and chasing them on the roadways, it just becomes a lot of what it wasn’t intended to be.”

The game is set to end the week of June 3, right after the seniors finish school. Whatever team is left standing will win a $360 cash prize for each individual on the winning team.