Back in the 1960’s, The Beach Boys had a hit entitled “Be True to Your School”. Part of the lyrics went like this, “…be true to your school now, like you would to your girl or guy, be true to your school now, let your colors fly…”. To me, these lyrics define the meaning of Homecoming on our college campuses. It is a time to celebrate your school if you are a current student or an alumnus. It is a time center around the Homecoming football game at many schools and to have fun, to be part of the spirit of your school and to party. America Unravelled has chosen eight of the very best Homecoming traditions and celebrations on our college campuses.
8. Game Ball Run Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets, Blacksburg, VA.
Homecoming became a tradition at Virginia Tech in 1926 when the football team played Virginia University. Over time it’s expanded into a week-long celebration called “Spirit Week” which includes entertainment, sporting events and Homecoming traditions. Some of the newer traditions are a Homecoming dance, performances during the week with nationally known performers and entertainers, a blood drive and a 5K walk/run just to name a few.
In my opinion, the most unique tradition is the Game Ball Run. This tradition began in 1977. During Spirit Week, members of the Virginia Tech Army ROTC, Ranger Company rotate groups of cadets who run literally all over campus with the football for Saturday afternoon’s football game yelling “Game Ball”. As they run around, the cadets get everyone they pass to touch the ball.
The game ball is constantly moving throughout the entire week leading up to the football game. No place on campus is off limits for the game ball. There are times during a class of upwards of 100 to 200 students, the Cadets have run into the classroom yelling “Game Ball”. When the Cadets end their game ball run at Friday night’s Spirit Rally, they have covered over 100 miles.
On game day, a ceremony is held as the Cadets run the Game Ball into Lane Stadium where the Homecoming football game will be played. Homecoming week is one of the most timeless traditions in Blacksburg, VA.
7. Lighting the Y, Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City, UT
Homecoming is a much anticipated and celebrated time at BYU. It is a time that students, faculty, alumni and parents come together for the week. Homecoming consists of “Spectacular”, a campus-wide event which showcases premier BYU performing groups and nationally acclaimed performers, Blue foam diving at Helaman Field, a parade, blue pancakes, a Homecoming dance, Reunions of previous classes, Cougar 5K road race, as well as Alumni Achievement Lectures and Luncheons. The culminating activity is the Hike up the mountain and the Lighting of the Y.
Since 1924 hundreds of students, and alumni have participated in the lighting of the Y on Homecoming week. They climb the 1.2 mile trail to reach the letter and then the first 150 students receive a light bulb to screw into place on the letter’s outline. Then the sign is lit. The lighted emblem shines and lights up the Utah night sky.
Seeing this sign illuminated is truly an amazing sight and the brilliant Y of BYU reminds students and alumni alike of the importance of BYU in their lives.
One of the most exciting events during Homecoming is the Homecoming football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The gathered community of BYU, young and old alike, come to the football game to cheer on their Cougars and celebrate this special time and place together.