Homecoming 2016 draws thousands of alumni, family and friends

Homecoming 2016 draws thousands of alumni, family and friends

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Matthew, who?

The threat of a hurricane bearing down on the East Coast notwithstanding, thousands of alumni, students, family and friends donned raingear and came to party Oct. 8 during Rowan’s annual Homecoming extravaganza.

Despite the 500-mile-wide Hurricane Matthew slowly churning up from the south, Homecoming 2016 was a weekend-long celebration that culminated in a massive tailgating, barbequing fun-for-all in and around Coach Richard Wackar Stadium.

The outcome of the annual fall festival, which this year pitted Rowan against Salisbury University, iced the cake as Rowan upset the visiting team 34-30.

For many, the match itself was really just dessert as they feasted on the pre-game, catching up with classmates from the near and distant past.

With footballs and music floating in the graying fall skies, the first heavy rains from Matthew starting to fall, friends gathered about smoky charcoal grills to chat, chow down and reminisce.

 

Annual reunion

“We all met here and stayed close,” said Khary Hunt ’96, who attended with a dozen or so brothers from the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, many from the Philadelphia/South Jersey region but others from as far as Virginia.

Gathered beneath a rain canopy, the fraternity brothers said Homecoming is one tradition they always keep, no matter the weather.

“It means a lot to see each other and stay in touch,” said current chapter president Daniel Curtis ’17.

Added Michael Beck ’96, “it started nine years ago with five people and a Weber grill and every year we’ve added to it.”

The fraternity brothers, members of a close and growing group of African American Rowan alumni, enjoyed the pre-game tailgate party as part of a weekend of activities that included a Meet & Greet Reception and Old School Jam on Friday, a Jazz Soiree on Saturday evening and a Fellowship Breakfast on Sunday.

 

A different kind of homecoming

For Joe Crispin, Rowan’s new head men’s basketball coach, Homecoming – and pretty much every day on campus – is a reunion of another sort.

Crispin, of Pitman, was a standout high school basketball star who attended Penn State, played two years in the NBA and nine in European leagues, returned to the states and found a home at Rowan. An assistant coach for the men’s and women’s basketball teams for two years, he became Rowan’s head men’s coach in May.

“Being here, on this campus, is like being home in the truest sense,” Crispin said. “I love being here, not just at Homecoming but every day. As I move about campus I see old friends, people I didn’t even know work here.”

 

Three-day celebration

One of the highlights of the school year, Rowan’s Homecoming is technically a weeklong celebration of all things Rowan that ran this year from Monday, Oct. 3, through Sunday, Oct. 9.

Built around the theme “PROFlympics,” a nod to the recently played summer Olympic games in Rio, Homecoming 2016 was the culmination of months of planning and featured a wide range of events orchestrated by the offices of Alumni Engagement and Student Activities.

Highlights of the week included a golf tournament, a Friday night block party, the 50th Reunion of the Class of ’66, a Homecoming parade, the pre-game tailgating party and, of course, the Big Game.

 

Lightning in a bottle

And sometimes, perhaps more often than we know, the truly unexpected happens.

Volunteering to greet guests at the Alumni Tent, Joe Akinskas had expected the expected – he'd welcome visitors, cross off names, chat with fellow volunteers and grab a bite to eat.

But halfway into the event, the Alumni Board member from Cherry Hill stumbled upon a college friend he hadn’t seen in 46 years, Brian Ayscue from Haddon Heights. Both music education majors, the 1970 graduates of then-Glassboro State College chatted at a crowded round table, recalled classmates and professors and agreed to stay in touch – on Facebook.

Trumpet player Akinskas said of meeting his old pal Ayscue, a sax player: “It’s great. It’s really the purpose of the day. Time marches on . . . and hopefully you can reconnect with people you once spent so much time with.”