History of College Homecoming
Written by Evin Miller on October 20, 2019
It’s that time of year again. As the nights get colder and the summer turns to autumn, Kansas Wesleyan University celebrates it’s annual Homecoming weekend. Alumni from many years past can be seen walking the buildings of their alma matter, while current students are participating in the many scheduled activities. Parents and families come back to KWU to check up on their students also, a whole family affair. The weekend usually consists of class reunions, a football game, dinners and many other celebrations for the campus.
But where did all this come from?
Homecoming got its start on college campuses as a fall celebration of the first football game of the season, for which alumni would return to their alma maters. Although most early Homecomings date back to the 19th century, there’s some debate over which school actually began the tradition. The University of Missouri claims to have invented Homecoming in 1911, when Director of Athletics Chester L. Brewer had the bright idea to invite alumni back to the annual game against the University of Kansas. The KU vs Mizzou football game was a rivalry game for both universities, and the first played at the Rollins Field Stadium at the University of Missouri. In order to encourage attendance at this game, Athletics Director Chester Brewer encouraged many college alumni to return to campus for the rivalry game, ending up with a very large turnout.
Naturally, there are others who contest their claim to hosting the first Homecoming football game, but it should be noted that this was the first Homecoming celebration to include, well a celebration. Chester Brewer arranged for not only a parade but also several parties to be held for the returning alumni. The tradition as expanded and flourished ever since. Whatever the truth of its origins, Homecoming spread throughout the country and developed into a “home coming” for alumni of all sorts. Including here at Kansas Wesleyan.
Kansas Wesleyan kicked off their 2019 Homecoming Weekend Friday morning, October 11. Graduates had the chance to go to different classes from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. during the Alumni College. The Class of 1969 praised its 50-year mark and was drafted into the Order of the Golden W at 12:30 p.m. The Coyote Cup Golf Outing hosted at the Salina Country Club also began at 12:30 p.m.
Hosted by BE Wealth, alumni had the chance to go to the Heritage Society Estate Planning Workshop, exhibited at 2:30 p.m. The Alumni Awards Dinner that was put on by the Courtyard by Marriott began at 6 p.m., graduated class Ryan Hicks ’05 (Young Alumni Award), Gordon Gorton ’67 (Alumni Service Award) and Randle Corfman ’79 (Alumni Achievement Award) were recognized, while Emily-May and Jim Richards received the Alumni by Choice award. Friday night’s activities ended with Late Night with the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Mabee Arena.
Saturday started off with the Hall of Fame Breakfast at 8 a.m., as five previous KWU Coyotes were drafted into the school’s Hall of Fame. The inductees included 2009 NAIA All-American Kaylaen (Dittmer) Evans, previous baseball champion Charlie Dyer ’70, All-KCAC football honoree Todd Hampton, class of ’59, Jimmy Ranieri ’98, a two-sport star in soccer and football and Jay Morton ’01, a four-time NAIA qualifier in the disk and shot-put. The 2001 and 2002 Coyote football teams, who were back-to-back conference champions were also accepted.
Athletic Hall of Famer and previous chairman Ginny Bevan ’56, a huge impact to KWU women’s athletics was honored with the unveiling of the Bevan Greens at 10 a.m. The newly updated Pollak Chemistry Lab was open for visitation from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Peter Science Hall.
The alumni baseball and softball games followed where many alums came back to catch up and play. As always, there was a tailgate before the football match-up. New to this year, the Kirwin House hosted a “Beer and Brats” tent for alumni and students 0ver 21 to visit.
After the game, the Homecoming Concert was held at Sams Chapel at 5:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Military School, Kansas Wesleyan honored Ginny Bevan and the 50 Years of Women’s Athletics.
The weekend wrapped up Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. with a service at the University United Methodist Church that featured the KWU Philharmonic Choir.