What is homecoming in Kent, anyway?


Fans cheer on the Flashes. Photo by Shaye Painter.

Rachel Jones

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Some freshmen or first-year students only know Homecoming as a time to show school spirit. This usually entails drenching themselves in their school colors all week, attending a football game Friday and going to a dance Saturday.

Obviously, college is different.

However, at any institution, Homecoming is not just a football game or a dance.

So let’s get some things straight about Homecoming:

It’s not just a high school thing.

Homecoming is actually a college tradition that trickled down to high schools in the late 1940s and 1950s.

“A lot of people think Homecoming started in high school then colleges picked it up,” said Nancy Schiappa, associate director of the Alumni Association. “It’s actually the other way around.”

Kent State held its first Homecoming on Feb. 15 and 16, 1918, but it was much different than the celebrations held today.

Seventy-two alumni attended the event, which included a performance of the senior class play “As You Like It,” an indoor baseball game between faculty members and students, a luncheon and a dance in Moulton Hall.

“Each year after that, it got increasingly popular, so we had it annually,” Schiappa said. “Literally 10 years later, we had thousands in attendance.”

It’s not just an alumni thing.

Homecoming literally is about coming home.

Thousands of Kent State alumni return every year for the celebration, but current students are considered alumni themselves.

“When we recruit students, we say this will be your home for the next four years,” Schiappa said. “This will always be a place you will be welcomed. You won’t always be students, but you will always be alumni.”

Schiappa said she gets calls from alumni the day after Homecoming to ask when next year’s event will be.

But students and Kent residents are also involved.


Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011

  • Bowman Cup 5k Race

    8 a.m. at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center

    Cost: $20 – RSVP by Oct. 12.

  • Homecoming Parade

    10 a.m. start – Traveling from Campus to Downtown – Main Street

    For more information contact Brenda McKenzie at

    330-672-2480 or

    [email protected].

  • Kiss on the K

    11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Risman Plaza on the “K”

  • Kent State Flashes vs. Miami Redhawks

    3:30 p.m. – Dix Stadium

  • Homecoming Comedy Show
  • 8-10 p.m. – KSU Ballroom

    Cost: Free for KSU Students; $5 for general admission

    For more information contact Avery Danage at

    [email protected].


“Homecoming is more than just the Kent State campus,” said Brittney Braydich, assistant director of Alumni Outreach. “It’s about the Kent community, alumni and students coming together. That’s what makes us who we are.”

It’s not just a football thing.

Although modern Homecoming is centered around the Saturday football game, the celebration didn’t start out that way.

Kent State did not even have a football team to go watch during the first Homecoming, which is why the event was in the spring.

“It was a time to showcase the whole university,” Schiappa explained. “We bring alumni back to campus to see what current-day student life is like. Vice versa, it’s a time for students to see what success alumni have had since they graduated.”

Keeping up with national trends, Kent State decided to officially recognize a fall football weekend as “Homecoming” in 1929.

Schiappa said the Kent State Alumni Association now picks the date for Homecoming when the football schedule is released in January. The second week of October is usually the desired weekend.

Diverse programs scheduled throughout the weekend give students opportunities to participate in Homecoming outside of the football game.

It’s supposed to appeal to a variety of people.

Almost every student organization and college on campus will be hosting its own events during Homecoming. These can be anything from reunions to award ceremonies.

These specific events vary every year, but some traditions take place annually.

“It kicks off with our Bowman Cup 5K race, which has participants who are community members, alumni and students,” Braydich said. “After the race is the annual alumni breakfast and parade watch in the Williamson Alumni Center (at 9 a.m.). (The parade) is kind of a tradition on campus.”

Brenda McKenzie, associate director in the Kent State Center for Student Involvement and co-chair for the Homecoming Parade planning committee, has been helping plan the parade since last spring.

“We get very positive feedback about the parade from both participants and attendees,” McKenzie said. “It is a great university and community event that can bring all of us together for a fun activity.”

Fun facts

  • First Homecoming:

    Feb. 15 and 16, 1918

  • First Homecoming football game: 1929
  • First recorded Homecoming football game: 1947

    – Kent State vs. Kalamazoo

    (now Western Michigan University)

    – The Flashes won 13-0

  • First Homecoming queen: 1930 (no name noted)
  • First noted Homecoming queen: Dorothy Bowers (1932)
  • First Homecoming king:

    1976 (no name noted)

  • First noted Homecoming king:

    Bill Stone (1978)

  • No Homecoming or football team because of WWII:



This year’s theme is “Rock the RedHawks.” McKenzie said there are 81 parade entries, including student groups, residence halls, community organizations, local businesses, high school marching bands and campus departments. There are even entries from Kent State regional campuses, including Salem and Stark.

After the parade, attendees are invited to explore campus and participate in one of the hundreds of events going on.

“It’s a pretty jam-packed day,” Braydich said. “There’s a ton going on this weekend. We got such great feedback from our Centennial celebration last year, and we wanted to build off of that and keep offering a variety of programs.”

It still gets a mixed response from students.

Senior Alison Minerovic, a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma and a zoology major, said she looks forward to celebrating every year.

“Homecoming is one of my favorite events because everyone comes back,” Minerovic said. “Alumni really only come back for Homecoming and Founder’s Day in April, so I look forward to seeing them.”

Minerovic plans to spend Homecoming representing her sorority in the parade then attending Sigma Sigma Sigma’s annual alumni cookout.

Freshman Erin Dobies, a visual communication design major, said she doesn’t know too much about Homecoming and doesn’t plan on participating in any events.

“I don’t really want to,” Dobies said. “Plus, I commute so I’d have to drive all the way out here for it.”

Sophomore Nathan Nelson said even though he works Saturday morning, he does plan on attending the football game and partying after.

Nelson said he thinks Homecoming gives students the chance to hang out with old and new friends.

“I guess it’s a big deal,” Nelson said. “It’s big for Greeks because their alumni come back, and it’s good for partying. I think it’s about people coming ‘home’ to be with friends, back in the atmosphere and reminiscing good times.”

No matter what events students plan on attending this weekend, Braydich said she just wants them to participate.

“I think it’s important for students to participate in that from the beginning,” Braydich said. “They can kind of get that pride feeling and learn about Kent State’s history and what we’re looking to move forward toward. It’s just a shame if people miss it.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].