Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC) worked hard this past fall semester to prepare for the annual Homecoming week competition, and on Saturday they got the news that made all of their efforts worthwhile.
At halftime of Saturday’s home football game against the University of Virginia Cavaliers, FEC was announced as the overall Homecoming winners for the third year in a row. The week was a tight race between FEC and United Black Students (UBS), but FEC managed to edge out its competitors by winning the Homecoming Parade with its giant sculptures of the school’s football championship trophies from the 1980s. The 150 points earned from the parade were enough to secure FEC’s three-peat, much to the delight of president Daniela Lorenzo.
“It’s surreal. FEC really loves homecoming and we make it a point to get all of our freshmen involved,” Lorenzo said. “For a lot of us, this is the event that led us to fall in love with FEC and UM, so we want to make sure we keep that tradition alive. Winning is just a culmination of all of the hard work we put into it, so it’s a pretty sweet feeling.”
Despite FEC’s recent dominance in Homecoming, its path to the title was not made easy with UBS and the Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) – Pi Kappa Phi (Pi Kapp) team, who were second and third respectively, breathing down their necks.
UBS was first in the ornament-crafting Spirit Tree competition and had member Donovan Thomas crowned as Homecoming King. UBS was also second in the dancing competition Organized Cheer (O-Cheer), as well as first in the inaugural cheering march Storm Warning and second in Alma Mater. They were nearly even in points with FEC, but the parade became the differing factor.
FEC won the Alma Mater competition and then the overall competition in 2013 and 2014. This year followed that same pattern. They also won opening ceremonies for their model of the Miami Marlins stadium and had Lorenzo and Jorge Gonzalez named as the Homecoming queen and prince, respectively. FEC also took the majority of spirit points, as it had numerous members at each event loudly singing the FEC chant.
The bulk of students who saw their first victory in 2013 were still in the organization to pass on the winning recipe.
“We have lots of passion, dedication and being super organized with spreadsheets and notes [helps],” Lorenzo said. “It’s all about timing and making sure that all deadlines are met and that you have the dedication to make it all amazing, even if it takes a lot of time and effort. We stay up until 2 [a.m.] sometimes just to paint banners or rehearse choreography for the different homecoming events, even though it’s just a week. FEC loves being part of the UM culture and I think this reflects that.”
Third place ZTA and Pi Kapp also enjoyed participating. This is ZTA’s second finish in three years, as they last placed in second in 2013. Finishing fourth in Alma Mater and winning O-Cheer contributed to their strong finish.
“It means so much to ZTA to place in Homecoming this year, because Homecoming is so different from the other things we’re involved in,” said Melissa Wyatt, the Homecoming chair for ZTA. “It’s a unique opportunity to show how much we love UM, and we’re extremely proud to have our efforts recognized by placing. All of the competitions were more fun with Pi Kapp. Many Zetas and Pi Kapps are close friends, so we all had a great time competing with many of our best guy friends alongside us.”
While student organizations such as the Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO) would have liked to dethrone FEC, they understood that the goal of Homecoming was to celebrate their school spirit and the return of alumni.
“No matter how much we wanted to win, we can’t let winning be our driving focus,” said Jili Zhou, the treasurer of COISO. “We had so many alumni pave the way for us students to be in this wonderful institution. For us, we are here to celebrate that in Homecoming. COISO is just happy to participate.”