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Santa Clara Feels "Disconnected" With Athletes
Since disbanding football in 1993, the Broncos have had a difficult time connecting students with athletics, seeing traditions like homecoming “fizzle away". The school is trying new things, including moving a “Spirit Week” in the middle of basketball season.
It was the mid-1960s when Santa Clara students last came out in legions to root for the home team during the glitz and fanfare of a true homecoming game in its heyday. Over 40 years later, student organizations are trying to bring back the spirit of this tradition.
Associated Students, in conjunction with numerous other student organizations – including the Residential Learning Community Association, Activities Programming Board and Ruff Riders – will be presenting Homecoming and Bronco Spirit Week from Feb. 19 to 23, said AS President Austin Woody.
The week will include a mini carnival, a pep rally in The Bronco, a formal dance and a tailgate party at Stuft Pizza leading up to the main event: the men’s basketball game against the University of San Diego on Saturday.
The not-so-annual event is a revival of sorts, said Woody, who had been trying to establish a week-long homecoming like this for some time. After the disbanding of the football team in 1993, homecoming customs fizzled away.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate our ‘home away from home’ and a tradition that has been lost in the past,” Woody said.
Woody said planning this year’s event was a labor of love for him, as he tried with no avail to plan a lasting homecoming event two years ago when he was a senator. Numerous conflicts set the event back. Last year, the plan was executed, but he described the week as “unsuccessful.”
“There was a pep rally, which no one attended, and the soccer game was just like a regular one, in terms of attendance,” Woody said.
Since Woody wasn’t in a leadership position at the time, he said he had trouble getting those in higher positions really excited about the idea. Now in his role as president, it is easier to delegate, he said.
The decision to switch the venue from the soccer field to the basketball court was a calculated one. The more intimate setting of Leavey allows for better control of the environment, and the national television coverage should elicit a heightened excitement level, Woody said.
The entire week is in line with what Woody said is the platform for this year’s administration, which is instilling a sense of Bronco pride in students that will resonate long after they leave Santa Clara.
Although the event conjures up the traditional alma mater sentiments, such as school spirit and pride, the basis for this type of homecoming is a bit different; this type of homecoming is more literal. While the event typically celebrates the alumni of a school returning after graduating, these festivities will be focused more on the students who were abroad during the fall and are now returning home to Santa Clara.
“It will be celebrating their homecoming, safe travels, amazing experiences and everyone being back on campus together,” said Woody.
Homecoming will be held the week after President’s Day weekend, and it will kick off that Tuesday with a mini carnival planned by the AS freshman council. Activities will include poster-making stations for the game, caricatures and even sumo wrestlers – one dressed as a Bronco who will be fighting one dressed in full bull regalia, mirroring USD’s mascot, the Toreros.
Wednesday’s event will be the annual APB winter quarter concert featuring hip hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony with supporting act Girl Talk. APB had not originally planned for the event to be incorporated into the spirit week, but it just so happened that the dates aligned.
“It’s a great thing,” said Coury Jacob, senior music manager for APB. “It was meant to be.”
Jacob also addressed the theme of unity represented by the concert and the spirit week.
“It’s a mixed-genre show, so we wanted the whole student body to be active and excited,” Jacob said. “It really encompasses spirit week – to get everyone together and have safe fun on campus.”
The festivities will continue on Thursday with a pep rally in The Bronco, with invited guests of honor, the men’s basketball team and cheer squad. The main event will be a dance-off between Hipnotik, Santa Clara’s hip hop and step club, and the Santa Clara Dance Team, said junior Kit Coyle, Ruff Riders president.
“I feel like Santa Clara sports are worth celebrating,” Coyle said. “Students may feel disconnected with the athletes. This is a chance to enjoy some time with them.”
Following the pep rally will be Senior Night in The Bronco, with The Bell Brothers, a Bay Area country band, providing the entertainment.
Friday will bring a red-and-white-themed ball to be held in the California Mission Room, said Maura McCormick, president of the RLCA, which is hosting the dance.
The room will be decked out with old black and white photos of the university’s alumni, blown up to poster size to try and give students a way to connect with the Santa Clara past. The idea was to make it feel like the traditional high school homecoming dance, but transposed to a college setting, said McCormick.
“We wanted to instill enthusiasm and pride because that’s what’s important about college – that students feel pride in their school,” she said.
Saturday tops off the week with the basketball game against the University of San Diego.
Homecoming first became a tradition in Santa Clara in the mid-1960s, after football was re-instituted as a Division II sport in 1959. The admission of women into the university in 1961, coupled with the newly re-welcomed football team, spurred the desire for full a homecoming experience – complete with a homecoming queen, floats, parades and all the trimmings.
This history and sense of unity is what the student organizations are trying to tap into, said Woody.
Preparations are ongoing, and plans are still being finalized at this point, according to Woody. But with the planning disappointments of two years ago, Woody said it’s nice to finally see the event come to fruition.
“We’ve already made shirts, so it’s official,” he said with a smile. “It’s T-shirt official.”
A tradition revived in ‘08: Homecoming week is back
Associated Students and other on-campus clubs plan for the week’s festivities
By Richard Nieva