Homecoming 2012 kicked for students in October, but for the teams that were 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 last year, the teams faced a new challenge.
Homecoming Week was 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 were 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 chair for Zeta. “We tried to delegate everyone in the right way.”
According to Zeng, the hardest part of Homecoming was managing all the sorority sisters, since Zeta had 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 were a challenge for all teams.
In FEC, most of the members who were active in Homecoming participated in multiple events that often required much 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 held practices every night but made it a rule to stop at 9:30 p.m.
“School is also important,” Valdes said.
Prepping for Homecoming required not only time – it also required 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, teams were only allowed to spend up to $300. For the parade float, teams were 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 tried to get creative with its costumes and reuse its backdrops each year.
For the first time, Greek organizations were 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.
“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.”