Home Sweet Home

Gracie Wilson, Collegian Managing Editor

Homecoming festivities are returning to campus in full swing this year with favorites such as Pizza Pizza Pizza, Homecoming battleship, as well as the return of the Ashland University homecoming football game.
After a quiet homecoming last year due to COVID-19 complications, a new king and queen will be crowned, and fun can be found around each corner all week and weekend.
The festivities kicked off on Sunday with window painting in the Student Center where different student organizations can show their creativity. Then, Wednesday brought back Banana Splittin’ in the academic corridor hosted by the Campus Activities Board (CAB), before their other fan favorite event, Pizza Pizza Pizza on Saturday.
“These events have occurred for many years, making it a prized tradition at AU,” Shantrice Bradley, Director of Student Activities and Residence Life Coordinator said. “These events bring out the best of students and create the opportunity to create a lasting memory for all students.
After a week of activities, Friday night sees the return of Homecoming Battleship to the Rec Center swimming pool with teams fighting for the Intramural Championship. Teams will load into canoes armed with buckets, swords and shields and defend their boat while trying to sink everyone else’s.
“Battleship has just been one of those events that we have done, obviously we didn’t do it last year but prior to that we’ve been doing it for at least five years,” Janel Molnar, Director of Recreational Services said.
After its disappearance last year, the event is coming back in full swing and welcoming spectators to the natatorium on Friday night to watch teams go head-to-head.
“It’s really a key event that individuals look forward to,” Molnar said.
Also on Friday night, a new event will kick off, courtesy of the Student Life Office, with the Parade of Purple coming to campus.
“It’s a Friday evening event and the first year we are doing it,” Jeff Alix, Director of Alumni Engagement said. “It’s an event that is going to kind of take students through campus and highlight the spots that are going to be having events during homecoming.”
This new event is meant to foster a sense of AU pride and build excitement for all the Saturday festivities as well as talking about what homecoming means as a student and then as an alumnus.
“It’s going to ultimately end up at the stadium, and there will be kind of like a pep rally feel,” Alix said. “We’ll have giveaways, activities [and] food but our hope is that this will become an annual event.”
Saturday morning will see homecoming kick into overdrive with an array of festivities lasting all day long, starting with the Hall of Fame ceremony at 9:30 a.m. in Upper Convo.
This hour and a half ceremony will honor inductees from the 2020 class who missed out on their celebration due to COVID-19 complications.
“It’s meaningful, in particular for a lot of the people going in,” Al King, AU Athletic Director said. “Obviously, a lot of our fans come through, and people who have known us for a lot of years.”
The 100 room is also open this year, giving visitors a glimpse into the century of history behind AU football and allowing those back for homecoming to take a look.
“It’s really a celebration of our heritage and history,” King Said. “It’s just a way for people to come in and kind of learn a little bit more about our history. People who had family members play here, [it] means a lot to them.”
Also taking place on Saturday morning is the Homecoming 5K and Fun Run sponsored by Rec Services and the Alumni Engagement Office.
“The 5K run is fun because it just brings everyone together,” Molnar said. “It doesn’t matter what your ability level is, if you want to walk, if you want to run…it’s just a fun atmosphere.”
The run is in its tenth year and offers prizes for finishing such as travel mugs and bookstore gift cards for first and second place, and a free 5K long sleeve shirt for the first one hundred who register for either the in person or virtual race.
The walk is open to all community members, students, families and alumni who would like to participate. On Saturday, the Rec Center will be open early at 8:00 a.m. and the walk will depart from the Rec Center at 9:30 a.m. To participate, register online at eventbrite.com/e/ashland-university-centennial-homecoming-5k-tickets-161148486461
After running a 5K, CAB is hosting Pizza Pizza Pizza, an annual event that is a fan favorite among students, faculty and alumni.
The event will be held in the Rec Center Lawn from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and offers free pizza from a multitude of pizza shops in the city of Ashland prior to kickoff for the football game and invites everyone to participate in a staple tradition.
“CAB would love to see all AU students participate in homecoming not only to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary, but to make memories with friends and have tons of fun,” Bradley said.
This weekend also marks the return of family day to campus where attendance at the football game is raised by the presence of both alumni and families.
This week, the Eagles are facing Lake Erie College at 1 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium.
“I would like to think that it’s a highlight,” King said. “I would like to think, from a university standpoint, it gives people something to do all day. I can go see football and go get something to eat, and we have the two soccer games here, so we’ve got something all day.”
After getting their football fix for the day, spectators can enjoy two home soccer games as well as an alumni swim meet at the Rec Center pool.
At halftime of the football game, royalty will be declared on campus when the homecoming Queen and King will be crowned. Nominees for queen include Jalyn Allen, Julia Huston, Tyayia Young, Violet Orr and Yosolajesu Olujide-Ajibade and nominees for king are Dimitri Herouvis, Kieran Paterson, Owen McManus, Tristan Vaughan and Tyler Easton.
“This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of homecoming at Ashland,” Bradley said. “What an honor it would be, [being crowned] the homecoming king and queen for the anniversary. It’s also part of the AU tradition of homecoming and brings AU together to celebrate their peers.”
After the game is over, the fifth quarter celebration will commence in Upper Convo with food, music and an appearance by AU alumni and Olympic gold medalist, Katie Nageotte.
“We’ve taken the football game and we’ve built a lot around it,” King said. “The one thing I think people are going to be really excited about is we’re bringing back Katie Nageotte who won the gold medal. So, she’s going to be a part of the game day things we do.”
Between Homecoming celebrations and family day, there are plenty of events to check out all over campus this weekend that everyone from community members and alumni to family and current students can partake in.
“One of the big, kind of crown jewel events at any campus is homecoming, there’s really nothing quite like it on a college campus.” Alix said. “So, our hope for current students is [that] they get an opportunity to see the pride that our alumni have in our alma mater.”