“Frontroom?”—We Sent Three Athletes into the Depths of Val and Here’s What They Found


“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” remarked varsity soccer player Robert Bukataman just before leaving his typical “Backroom” table; or, as he refers to it, “the room.”

“Usually I head in through the door, straight to the food, and then that’s that. You head for your drink and the room is right there. Is there—what you’re telling me is that there’s something in between the entrance to Val, and…and where we actually get the food?”

What he found was so much more.

Not only was there a so-called—and what he believes to be thus-far uncharted—“Frontroom,” there is also an area of Valentine Dining Hall above the food, an area Bukataman’s taken to calling “Upland.”

Based on rumored changes to Val in previously unknown territories and in the general spirit of exploration, Bukataman traveled with two other varsity soccer members to the exotic Frontroom, a land at first glance completely inhospitable and occupied by unfriendly tribes.

“Well, yea,” reflected one of the fellow soccer-explorers. “We’ve been thinking about moving after they took down the painting because, you know, maybe they moved it to somewhere else and then we could still eat by it. Or, maybe we’d find more seating. It can get a little crowded back there. But I never expected all this.”

Within the new territories of the “Upland” and “Frontroom” resided a variety of peoples that—based on the athletes’s research—congregated into distinct but essentially overlapping tribes. These tribes have been known to call themselves by the names “GAPers,” “Outties” and “People on the Frisbee Team”. Additionally—and perhaps most fascinating of all—they bore witness to the strange habits and traditions of these native peoples, including a pseudo-sport known as “Applefork,” and a day celebrating smug self-satisfaction called “Meatless Monday.” Communication with these tribes has been difficult; their dialects, though somewhat similar to the athlete’s, are distinctly crunchier and more ironic.

“It was just kinda confusing. Like there seemed to be some people in the Frontroom that wanted to be athletic, but clearly they’re not on any real team. And it’s like, have they always been there? What have they been doing with their time? Honestly I have more questions than answers at this point,” Bukataman relayed.

Unresolved still is the exact native composition of the Upland, which—while featuring tables reminiscent of the room’s—had a mix of people that were either too quiet or slow-moving to categorize.

Already, however, the soccer members are being praised for their Lewis and Clark-like efforts, which have opened up new possibilities for interactions, and even the lucrative trade of such items as Sriracha bottles.

“At the end of the day, though, none of this would have been possible without the help of our native guide, the noble Rebecca, of the NARP peoples. Maybe one day our peoples will bond with their peoples, and perhaps even mix in one of Amherst’s four dormitories: Crossett, Pond, Stone, and Coolidge.”