Alumni love coming “home”
By Greg Pfeiffer
What does homecoming mean to returning students? Class of 2007 alumus Pat O’Toole captures it nicely:
“Coming back, you have a greater appreciation for the relationships you had here and the people you met. Being out in the real world can get lonely, so it’s nice to come back and realize how many relationships you have.”
Rob Goeke, another 2007 alumus added, “Homecoming is always about the alumni getting together. It is made by the people, not the school.”
O’Toole and Goeke were just two of many individuals returning to the Hill to experience this year’s homecoming festivities. It was feared that wet weather may dampen the experience, but with the clearing sky came a beautiful day for students and families alike to enjoy the tradition.
The stadium and surrounding areas were in full swing with activity, as groups set up tents and chairs to relax and spend time with friends. From a glance, it felt like a pre-concert parking lot: music freely flowing, the smell of barbeque, vendors selling t-shirts, food and other items. Walking through it all provided a sense of belonging and togetherness that only this kind of experience could offer.
Most attention centered on the football game, in which our Green Terror hosted the Franklin & Marshall Diplomats. Before the contest began, the bleachers slowly filled to near capacity until kick-off, when it was clear that support for the McDaniel squad was high. This year held special significance for the football program, as it marked the 10-year anniversary of the 1997 Western Maryland team that went undefeated en route to the school’s first Centennial Conference Championship.
During halftime at Saturday’s game, the college honored over 30 individuals from that group for their impressive achievements. The current team needs improvement to reach that type of success, but they played a well-fought game despite suffering a tough 24-17 overtime loss. Still, the fans appreciated the close contest, and it provided an excellent chance for friends new and old to come together.
Freshman Courtney Hitchcock said, “I like hanging out with my all my friends and it’s definitely the best football game I’ve been to so far.”
There was plenty to do and see outside the game as well. Kids enjoyed receiving all kinds of balloon animals, former students of all ages stopped by the designated alumni tent, and current students relished in the company of their closest friends and loved ones. Some people resurrected their own college traditions, as evidenced by an individual seen with a cigar on the caboose.
Matt Burger, a class of 2001 graduate, explained how “at the beginning and end of every semester, my friends and I would get on top of the caboose and smoke cigars.” Unfortunately, it seems they didn’t quite get the memo, but it was a good attempt nonetheless. “One would be here, but it’s his dad’s 50th birthday” he explains, adding that “others thought it would be raining.”
In addition to this, the area near the caboose served as the spot for the most humorous event of the day. This was none other than a hot dog eating contest put on by the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. Spectators witnessed a fine spectacle, as six of the brotherhood’s finest competed to see who could wolf down the most dogs in seven minutes. There was yelling, chanting, a bit of informal betting, as well as grimaces from the contestants and audience alike. Once the contest was underway, it didn’t take long to hear a mix of nauseated laughter at the expense of the participants. Each of them ate valiantly, but only one was crowned destroyer of the dog; that title went to the one known as “Big Will,” who forced down eight of the boiled treats in the allotted time frame. Interestingly, he is not even a student here, so it seems the Alpha Sigs have a bit of practicing ahead of them.
On a related matter, the hills surrounding the stadium were covered with large and colorful letters, a representation of the groups that make up Greek life here on campus. These displays are judged annually, with the Alpha Sigs taking the title of “Best Letters” in addition to their fourth capturing of the BRANT award. This award, based on a point system, includes an evaluation of GPA, leadership, community service, athletic participation, and representation within the honor society.
“We’re just as excited this year as we were the first year,” said President Chris Kron. “We didn’t expect to win.”
Homecoming is an entertaining experience for everyone involved; it gives new students a chance to see the importance of tradition, seasoned students an opportunity to unwind, and returning students the means to relive old times as well as see what their college has become. Just like the t-shirts say, “We did it on the Hill.”
Additional reporting by Rose Eney and Cori Simpson.