Princeton Players Enjoy Dartmouth’s Tennis Ball Tradition

When Carl Hesler gave Dartmouth the 1-0 lead last Friday, fans sent tennis balls to the ice. The game paused as the tennis balls were cleared off the ice, another piece of the Princeton-Dartmouth tradition in Hanover, N.H.

“[It’s] pretty cool. But other than that we want to make sure that they don’t score many goals on us and we want to score before they do,” junior Mike Ambrosia said.

“It stops the play and gets everybody out of their rhythm. It’s a tradition and things you’re going to remember, but hopefully they don’t score any goals.”


The tradition belongs to Dartmouth, but once was Princeton’s. Tiger fans used to do the same, tossing tennis balls after the first home goal. Don Cahoon stopped the ritual during his coaching time at Princeton, but not before a tennis ball allegedly hit a Dartmouth goalkeeper.

After that, the Big Green fans adopted the tradition.

“It’s kind of funny, I’m a big tennis fan, I like Roger Federer and all that stuff,” junior Kyle Rankin said. “It’s an experience. It’s fun to play in an atmosphere where people care and you see the student section like that and that’s fun.

“As much as I’m sure they feed off of it, there’s nothing better than silencing a crowd like that if you pull off a game win or a series win.”

The referees ignore the first peppering of tennis balls. But, the Big Green can be penalized if fans toss anything onto the ice for latter goals – something Dartmouth’s Director of Athletics warned against before last weekend’s games.

“It’s kind of distracting at times, it takes a little while [to clean it up],” Aaron Ave said. “The good thing is they do it when they score so it kind of takes the momentum out of it a little bit for them with the time it takes to pick them up.

“Hopefully we can avoid that and just worry about ourselves and score some goals.”

On Friday, Dartmouth’s Director of Athletics released another letter asking fans not to throw tennis balls in the playoff series.

“I feel strongly that tennis balls have no place in Thompson Arena during the postseason play-offs. … While the referees overlooked the first throw last weekend, it is very possible that they will not do the same for these play-off games,” Harry Sheehy said in the letter.

Sheehy said Dartmouth’s president agreed to pay the cost of student admission for the series, but will rescind his offer if tennis balls are thrown.


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