Homecoming makes the freshmen feel at home


Sitting as a high school freshman in 2010, I had no idea what Homecoming was or what it meant. I knew there was a big dance and that we wear our school colors the day of the football game, but otherwise, it was a foreign concept to me. I took the bus to school on Oct. 15, no longer as just a student, but a soldier in an army of navy blue and gold. For the first time in my high school career, I felt like I was part of something bigger.

Now, I sit here four years later as a college freshman, and this feeling of confusion and excitement returns. Hearing Homecoming weekend stories of the past, it’s hard not to be giddy about my first chance to experience the event. Chapters that alumni and upperclassmen have written in the book of Homecoming adventures are complete. We arrive as freshmen with an open canvas in front of us, a blank page waiting to be filled with tales of our own.

My dorm floor, which is almost entirely filled with freshmen, counts down the days until we get to prance around in as much orange and blue as we can find. Half of my floormates don’t know the record of the football team, or even who our opponent is for the game. However, these facts really don’t matter because the effect Homecoming has is bigger than any scoreboard or stat sheet can tell you.

It makes this giant place feel a little smaller, the people a little friendlier and campus overall a more enjoyable and homey place. In a place where everyone is rushing to his or her next class, event or Greek function, Homecoming brings everyone together as one. The guy who you were always with until he joined a frat, the practically nocturnal girl who’s up at all hours of the night, the person you crushed on during welcome week — everybody joins together. Although it may be for just a weekend, sometimes that’s all you need to help you remember that you’re not alone; a faint reminder that you’re surrounded by not just fellow students, but by fellow Illini.

As I look back at my first Homecoming in 2010, one distinct memory always pops into my head. My freshman self lays out all his clothing on his bed, looking for anything that was blue, gold or had a “Lincoln Park” logo. Questions like “What if no one else dresses up?” and “What if I can’t find my friends?” floated around until I got off that bus on Oct. 15. As I was immediately surrounded by blue and gold, I knew everything was going to be OK. Now in 2014, a freshman all over again, I know when I get off that bus in front of Memorial Stadium, and I get submerged by the sea of orange and blue, as far as I am from Lincoln Park, and as big as this place may be, I will know that I’m home.

Drake can be reached at [email protected]