Homecoming through the ages: K-State alum speak about memories

Fans express their opinion of the losing football season by painting messages on sacks and wearing them on their heads during the Parent's Day weekend game against Oklahoma State on November 3, 1984. (File Photo by Chris Steward | The 1985 Royal Purple)

This is K-State’s 100th year of Homecoming. K-State alumni and students join forces and participate in several activities and events, including Pant the Chant, pomping, Wildcat Request Live, Paint the ‘Ville and the Homecoming Parade.

“Homecoming in college amplifies it a million times from high school,” Maile Widman, 2015 alum in digital media and alumni member of Gamma Phi Beta, said.

Widman was involved in Homecoming all four years of her college career. She said she likes to draw and paint, and she was able to volunteer her ideas and time for a spirit sign one year for her sorority.

“Homecoming is a really fun time to share your ideas, creativity and whatever skills you have,” Widman said.

Widman said one year of her participation in Homecoming stands out the most.

“My favorite memory would be when we won Homecoming my sophomore year,” Widman said. “My sorority was paired with Sigma Nu and Kappa Sigma. We had a lot of fun and we really meshed well, and we ended up winning. Those were times you got to meet different people, and I think it’s another way our greek community invests in each other.”

According to Kappa Alpha Theta alumni member Becky Keely, 1998 alum in kinesiology, Homecoming activities and events relating to greek life have changed over the years.

“We had different challenges back then I think than what you do now,” Keely said. “We did body building, which was like a big cheerleading performance. The guys and the girls from the houses would get together and do a big cheerleading performance, and it was pretty crazy what they all could do.”

Keely said Homecoming was a time when K-State’s greek community got to really know each other.

“I remember showing up one morning for our Homecoming Parade, and our fraternity partner did not get our float down there, so we walked home,” Keely said. “You just never knew what was going to happen Homecoming Week.”

Homecoming is an opportunity to bring past, present and future K-Staters together. School spirit is a common theme on which K-State alumni reflected when talking about their Homecoming experiences.

“Homecoming is a welcoming of people who went to K-State to come back, and mostly to see our great school spirit,” Phillip Gomez, 2014 alum in marketing and alumni Alpha Kappa Lambda member, said. “The overall experience was something I didn’t really expect coming into it because you don’t think of everything that goes into the week.”

Gomez said that an added benefit of Homecoming activities was socializing with other greek houses.

“The first time I participated in Homecoming and the last time, we won it, and so doing the parade I tried my best to go to everything because it was fun to meet other K-Staters and it got me away from homework, so that was a plus,” Gomez said.

Becky Fleenor Weber, 1985 alum in speech pathology, said there was a different football team back then, making Homecoming a little different for her.

“The years that I went to school, our football team didn’t have that many winning seasons, so the enthusiasm wasn’t the same as it is now,” Weber said.

Weber was not involved in greek life; however, she said she liked to contribute to different Homecoming activities. She said she went to the parades, attended bonfires and loved getting together with her peers to watch the band perform.

One activity Weber talked about was “Stuff the Union,” and she mentioned the difference in school spirit from then to now.

“They were trying to increase the school spirit a little bit, so they had an activity called Stuff the Union where we had to get as many people to the union as we could, so that was fun,” Weber said.

Weber said she hopes the K-State family tradition and school spirit stays alive.

“In the future, I want them to continue the great family tradition of K-State and any activity they have that students can come together as a group,” Weber said. “That’s what I want it to be.”