I never got much into Homecoming activities back when I was in high school. Back then, all of it felt so artificial, what with all the ridiculous themes that felt like they were pulled from a hat of dumb ideas, predictable popularity contests, and pep rallies the student body was forced to attend. Of course, college is different from high school in a great variety of ways, and Homecoming is no exception. And I might be a tiny bit biased in my assessment, but I think College of Idaho does Homecoming better than anywhere else. There's a bunch of reasons for this, and I'll explain them a bit as I go along, but first let me tell you about the Homecoming festivities I took part in (and check out more Homecoming photos below!).
First, all week there were various theme days to get people excited about Homecoming. Yes, I know this is one of the things I complained about above as something too high schoolish, but these themes actually had something to do with our school. Gone were the random themes like 80s day and Twin Day, replaced with days that actually encouraged school spirit instead of showing off a silly costume. Each of them were pretty simple and easy to go along with without having to go completely crazy and overdressed. Simple themes like purple day, organization day, and alma mater day could all have been done with a simple t-shirt or even coordinating colors, and were great ways of learning more about professors to boot. The faculty gladly participated in most of the days, getting them just as pumped as the students for the upcoming festivities. Our faculty advisor for Delta Tau Delta, Dr. Chris "Bobby" Saunders, was pretty excited to have the opportunity to wear a t-shirt with our letters on it, and maybe even more excited that he was able to fit into a shirt he borrowed from one of the guys in our chapter.
Basically, the theme days worked because everyone could show school spirit without having to take painstaking efforts, and everyone did it not out of obligation to social standing, but because they actually wanted to show pride in their school. It was all genuine, and that's what made it special.
Of course, there was more to Homecoming Week than theme days, and I found myself involved in a decent number of them, often without even expecting to do so. The first event I went to was Jasper LiCalzi's Quiz Bowl on Thursday night, a fun little event for both students and returning alumni that was christened "Jasperdy." That pun should be enough for you to tell the tone of the evening--despite the fact that there were teams competing against one another, very few took it too seriously, and many lighthearted jabs were taken at teams all around. With no major prize on the line except for pride, we were all basically there to enjoy ourselves and maybe win some candy (and an autographed picture of the host himself). I was on a team made up of a handful of Delts and some other friends of ours--we called ourselves the "Kick Astronauts." Try not to think too hard about that name if you're easily offended. Compared to some of the other team names that night, ours was somewhat tame. It was a great time, especially since we only missed one question all night, and although we ended up losing to a team of alumni, it was hard to feel bad about anything. One of those alumni happened to be one of the founding fathers of our Delt chapter, who I hadn't yet met until that night. I can't stay mad at a brother who got a perfect score!
The next night was the Homecoming game, a volleyball match against Southern Oregon University, with a tailgate barbeque prior to the event. I was at the front of the line to get a free t-shirt to wear at the game, which was going to be a "white out" with volleyball themed spiritwear. Everyone given a shirt was also given a plate to indulge in a wide variety of outdoor foods--I ended up with a combination of Asian and Mexican cuisines, somehow, but I definitely wasn't complaining. A live band was also playing as everyone enjoyed the free food, a local group called Marshall Poole who were just about the definition of cool (dear bass player--if you ever read this blog post, I might now be in love with you, and your telephone microphone too). It was a pretty great vibe all around, even if the weather was slightly chilly.
The game itself was pretty awesome for me personally, since I was in a group singing the national anthem to kick it all off. We're a newly formed a capella group called Major Sixth, since there's six of us and we're kind of a big deal. We were asked to sing for the game, so of course we said yes. It went pretty well, I'd say--it was a nice reaction from the crowd, which is always a blast. I didn't end up staying for the whole game, but I was happy to be part of the crowd of home supporters for a bit, a crowd of both students AND alumni.
That last part is the most important--we have alumni who regularly come out to support our little liberal arts college. They're there because they want to be there, want to show us support, and want to wish us well. When's the last time a large alumni base ever showed up to a high school game? To me, this is what I want Homecoming to be about--you know, actually coming Home. Having such an awesome alumni base is just one more thing that makes me proud to be a Yote.
Clayton is a junior creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.