Week of spirit events unite, energize campus

Junior Shannon Van Gundy plants basil at the Miami River Commission by Little Havana Sunday morning as part of Hurricanes Help the Hometown (HHTH), an event for Homecoming week. Holly Bensur // Contributing Photographer 

Homecoming 2012 kicked off Friday, but for the teams that are participating in the competitions, Homecoming began a month and a half ago.

“It’s all about Homecoming in the weeks leading up,” said Lara Lackstein, chair of the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC).

After the Homecoming theme, “The Tried, The True, The U,” was revealed in the first week of September, all teams that wanted to participate were required to attend an informational meeting held by the HEC.

At the meeting, the rulebooks were distributed, and teams were able to sign up for the events in which they wanted to partake.

Then, the planning began in earnest, especially because this year, the teams face a new challenge.

Homecoming Week is about two weeks earlier than usual, because the only option for the Homecoming game was against Florida State University.

“It’s been very stressful, because we have a lot less time,” said Victoria Valdes, who is in charge of Homecoming for the Association of Commutter Students (ACS). “I’m trying to make it as organized as possible, because if I don’t have organization, I will explode.”

ACS began writing its script for O-cheer the same night that the theme was announced. For alma matter, they held auditions to determine where to place members and to discover “if anyone had any special skills, like beatboxing.”

“Once you get that done, you can work on all the fun stuff,” Valdes said.

Throughout the process of creating teams, Valdes’ goal was to find something to do for everyone who wanted to participate. ACS, like most organizations, allows members to participate in as many events as they want.

“Maybe you don’t sing, maybe you don’t dance, but you do something well,” Valdes said. “If that’s your strength, we want you to go with it.”

In the Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC), all members are encouraged to take part in coming up with ideas for the different Homecoming events.

“For alma matter, everyone contributes to the lyrics but the singers decide who’s alto, who’s soprano,” said Kelly Castro, the Homecoming chair for FEC.

For the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, the preparations for Homecoming coincided with the group’s annual philanthropy week.

“Our girls were spread really thin,” said Tina Zeng, Greek relations chairs for Zeta. “We tried to delegate everyone in the right way.”

According to Zeng, the hardest part of Homecoming is managing all the sorority sisters, since Zeta has more than 100 members.

“We’re quite a big sorority,” she said. “With such a big org, it’s easy for people to get confused about events. You have to keep answering their questions and not get too frustrated with anyone if they don’t know what’s going on.”

Scheduling rehearsals can also become a challenge for all teams.

In FEC, most of the members active in Homecoming participate in multiple events that often require a lot of practice, such as alma matter and O-cheer.

“We start having meetings almost every day as it gets closer,” Castro said. “Accommodating everybody’s schedule can get really difficult.”

ACS also holds practices every night but makes it a rule to stop at 9:30 p.m.

“School is also important,” Valdes said.

Prepping for Homecoming requires not only time – it also requires cash.

“We are aware that some teams have money and other teams don’t,” Lackstein said. “It’s not necessary to spend money on Homecoming. It is up to the team’s discretion.”

For O-cheer, all teams are only allowed to spend up to $300. For the parade float, teams are given $100 gift cards to Home Depot.

“It’s not necessary to spend money on O-cheer,” Lackstein said. “Costume could be same-colored shirts. The backdrop could be the banner.”

According to Castro, FEC tries to get creative with its costumes and reuses its backdrops each year.

For the first time, Greek organizations are teaming up to compete together. The sorority Delta Phi Epsilon and the fraternity Beta Theta Pi paired up to compete as one dynamic duo. They won first place in the banner competition last week.

“It was a no-brainer to team up for Homecoming,” said Cody Colleran, vice president for academic affairs for Delta Phi Epsilon. “Although we are members of different organizations, we are all UM students who genuinely love our school. I have already gotten to know so many amazing brothers I had not met before.”

Things to Watch Out For During Homecoming Week

1. Greeks will be teaming up to compete as one team
2. The parade route will be backwards. It will start in the Serpentine Lots and end at Ponce De Leon Avenue.
3. Instead of vendors, there will be food trucks at the Hurricane Howl
4. Hurricane Howl will also include rides and inflatable attractions.


Homecoming Week Activities

BLOOD DRIVE: We Bleed Orange and Green
Monday – Wednesday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
UC Ballrooms and UC 245

HOMECOMING KING & QUEEN: Battle Royale: Swagger Takes All
Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Newman Alumni Center Multipurpose Room

ORGANIZED CHEER:  Let’s Dance, the Last Dance
Wednesday at 7 p.m.
BankUnited Center Fieldhouse

Thursday at 10:45 a.m.
UC Rock Rain or Shine

Thursday immediately following Alma Mater
Spirit Tree at Ashe Building Rain or Shine

PARADE: Floating Through the Ages
Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Merrick Street and Stanford Drive

HURRICANE HOWL: Start of a New []_[]
Friday after the Parade
Lake Osceola/UC Rock and the Foote Green
6-10 p.m. Food Trucks at Stanford Drive
7-10 p.m.  Hurricane Howl / Kidsville at Foote Green
8:45 p.m. Boat Burning / Fireworks at Lake Osceola
10 p.m. HP Homecoming Concert featuring Lupe Fiasco at BankUnited Center

UM vs Florida State: Homecoming Game
Saturday at 8 p.m.
SunLife Stadium