By Haley Rey, Editor in Chief
Photos from McKendree University and Haley Rey
Homecoming is a time when a school invites alumni and former staff back to celebrate the school’s history and success. At McKendree, the celebration often includes a tailgate, a crowd-heavy football game, special campus events all week, and alumni reunions. COVID-19 prevented many of the homecoming celebrations last year, or pushed them online. This year, we’re back and ready to have some fun!
There are many special things that have happened this week, like theme days, a dodgeball tournament, and a movie night. Today, homecoming court voting ends, and tomorrow, there will likely be games and food trucks at the quad during lunch time, followed by volleyball and soccer games and a parade-decorating party behind the bookstore. You can find out exact times by checking your homecoming event emails from Craig Robertson.
Tomorrow will also hold the golden anniversary reunion for the class of 1971, and the all-alumni reunion later in the day. Friday night, REZA–an illusionist–will perform at the Hett. Get your tickets here!
On Saturday (the big day!), Sunrise Yoga will be offered in the morning, followed by breakfast, alumni registration, the tailgate and BBQ party, the parade, the football game, and an alumni awards dinner. There will also be a Diversity Dance at the IM gym in the evening. Sunday brings a Choir alumni gathering, a chapel service, and a Bearcat Brunch. Find times for these events here!
“I would say my favorite part of Homecoming would be the tailgating and BBQ before the football game, and the football game itself,” says Zach Odum, McKendree senior. “I like the unity with alumni and current students when it comes to supporting McKendree.”
Since there is so much going on during homecoming week/weekend, the office of Public Safety emphasizes the extra caution and mindfulness students, staff, and visitors should have over the next few days.
“Homecoming is going to be great,” says Tony Tomlinson, Director of Public Safety. “Public safety would ask the students, faculty, and staff be on alert. This is a time the criminal element will attempt to blend in and take advantage of us. Do not leave anything lying around, and do not leave any drinks unattended. Our campus is small enough that we should recognize everyone. If you see something that does not look right to you, make someone aware. Public Safety Officers will be all around. The next thing, move around in buddy teams. Let us have fun and stay safe.”
Homecoming can be the best time of the semester if everyone cooperates and stays out of trouble. Also, be sure to remain updated about parking restrictions this weekend! With everything going on, there will be very limited parking. Students, check your emails for information about where you can park your car and when.
Craig Robertson, the Director of Campus Activities, NSO, and Campus Recreation, has experienced many McKendree Homecomings and has made many of the events we enjoy possible.
“I enjoy seeing both sides of Homecoming–the current student side and the alumni side,” shares Robertson. “For current students, it is seeing many beginning to form some of their own traditions. Unfortunately, the pandemic has affected students not only during their time here at McKendree, but also for many during their prior high school years as some missed Homecoming and/or prom. This year in particular has been a process–getting ourselves somewhat back to normal while still navigating what has been our most recent and current normal. Being able to see students lead and participate in various activities during Homecoming Week has been great, and I’d love to see more interaction in the coming years. The smiling faces and laughter show a different level of enjoyment and an escape for Homecoming Week that hopefully continues well beyond. Students being engaged and active in different organizations really raises the life and pulse of the University and we’re making progress.”
Robertson takes care of the big moments and the small moments when it comes to reuniting McKendree’s family. He has seen people return from many corners of life to relive memories and celebrate their alma mater.
“Each year it is great to see former students and their families return to campus and spend some time catching up on so many things!” Robertson continues. “There are a lot of ‘remember when’s, have you heard from.., I am now working at…, and on and on. So many of the students that you encounter over the years each tell a different story and a unique McKendree moment. Homecoming allows you to remember the past, see the current, and get a glimpse of the future. The university continues to be a very special place for so many and I’m thankful for all of my past and present students and colleagues who have made–and continue to make–McKendree University home.”
As much fun as it is to attend the events, it seems the reunion of friends, students, professors, faculty, and staff is the most rewarding part for many Bearcats.
“I think my favorite part about homecoming is the feel of the whole university coming together, wearing purple and gold and having pride in our school,” explains Molly Smalley, a first-year graduate student. “We all have a great time, get to meet new people, network, and enjoy the parade, along with all the accompanying activities. Homecoming is a great way to get everyone together in celebration.”
This is true for Steven Towns, a senior, as well. “I love to see the alumni come back, and I’m happy to see them proud of the changes the school has made that really started with them many years ago,” he shares. “Seeing old friends that you haven’t seen in years that finally decide to come back is great, too. It’s also nice just seeing people step out of their comfort zone, getting involved with different activities around campus.”
Meredith Geyer, an alumna from the class of 2020, plans to visit this weekend! She was a beloved member of the McKendree Swim and Dive Team.
“I am returning to McKendree for Homecoming weekend to see my old teammates and to watch the current team compete at home… and to figure out how to get an omelet from Ames on Sunday morning!” says Geyer. “McKendree, while small, has always had great homecoming festivities with its family atmosphere. I am thankful a few of us will be able to come from out of town to celebrate as alumni.”
This weekend, McKendree welcomes returners back to our beautiful campus with open arms. Let’s celebrate good ol’ MCK… Go Bearcats!