“Game on” is the Homecoming Executive Committee’s (HEC) message to this year’s homecoming game rivals Florida State University (FSU). It is also the theme of the University of Miami’s traditional homecoming week, taking place Oct. 31 through the Nov. 5 football game against FSU.
“It’s going to be the first full, like full-full-full, homecoming since COVID, so I really wanted to pick a theme that’s going to get the crowd going,” said Esther Alexandre, a vice-chair of HEC and senior studying computer engineering.
HEC revealed the theme in their signature “Prep Rally” event on Lakeside Patio midday this past Friday. Frost Band of the Hour played spirit songs as Sebastian the Ibis danced alongside UM cheerleaders and the Hurricanettes. Category 5 taught the crowd gameday traditions, including the “C-A-N-E-S” chant and fire extinguisher spray.
Students and alumni arrived from near and far to enjoy the performances along with baseball cap giveaways and lawn games.
“It is an opportunity for students and alumni to get together and celebrate our memories and what the U meant to us,” said John A. Thompson Jr., a 1970 alumnus who received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from UM.
Even UM’s newest students embraced the school spirit. For multiple first-year students, Friday’s pep rally was their first homecoming tradition.
“It was fun. I like free stuff. I like the spirit. You know, it’s a lot better than high school,” first-year marine biology and ecology major Madelyn Steinour said. “Like 1,000 times better.”
This year’s theme has already caught on with freshmen, who shared their excitement.
“I think it’s a good challenge. It’s motivational, you know, like game on,” Steinour said.
The theme has a double meaning, also referencing video games. Versatility was key when coming up with the idea and the HEC wanted to incorporate the “Game on” spirit into every aspect of homecoming.
“We tried to do something that’s inclusive, but is also going to get the crowd pepping,” Alexandre said.
In line with creating a greater sense of inclusion, HEC announced that the Homecoming King and Queen competition would now be a Homecoming Royalty competition. This change allows students to win a title on the homecoming court regardless of gender identity. The HEC believes that this change would shift the quintessential tradition into a new era of inclusivity.
“It’s a part of us being more inclusive of all communities,” said Nathan Brown, a senior studying political science and economics and a member of the HEC alma mater committee.
The HEC worked closely with the LGBTQ center through a series of meetings to ensure that the Homecoming Royalty change was carried out properly.
“We made sure to incorporate everyone in the conversation,” Alexandre said.
Students and alumni emphasized the importance of homecoming, cementing it as an unforgettable university experience.
“It just makes you feel included. It’s like a common cause, you know, everyone can get behind it,” Steinour said. “It’s not exclusive to any students. It’s for everyone.”
The pep rally concluded with the crowd singing UM’s alma mater, their index fingers raised in the air.
The HEC and Category 5 will post more information regarding Homecoming Week on their respective Instagram pages @umiamihomecoming and @category5 leading up to the event.