Point of pride: Why do we celebrate homecoming at CSU?

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Collegian | Avery Coates

A Ram fan’s “STATE” bus sits next to the Colorado State University Intramural Fields during a tailgate that took place before the Homecoming game against San Jose State University Oct. 9, 2021.

DJ Vicente, Staff Reporter

As the orange colors of autumn arrive to coat the Colorado State University campus, build-up for Homecoming begins.

Students, parents and alumni will experience a weekend of CSU’s longest-standing traditions, from the Festival on The Oval to the Homecoming football game as the finale of the weekend.

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Members of the CSU and Fort Collins community are invited to participate in the events, but a question that may permeate the minds of attendees is asked: Why do we do Homecoming?

“There’s this common green thread that runs through us … to be able to bring people back to that home, to that place where they became so much of who they are now,” said Amy Jo Miller, director of marketing and communications for CSU’s Alumni Association. “That’s what Homecoming does.”

While a seemingly nebulous question for an event so ingrained in CSU’s history, different perspectives throughout the community shed light on the importance of the tradition.  

“Even though it’s student-facing, it really ties in a lot of community members to be involved with our students and to feel like they have a place at CSU too so that CSU isn’t an insular place.” -Colette Sterling, assistant director of CSU Parent and Family Programs

For Miller, Homecoming weekend is celebrated for alumni to connect with their roots once more. While CSU isn’t Miller’s alma mater, after being here for 11 years and with the Alumni Association for more than half that time, CSU and Fort Collins became her home.

“It’s a chance for all of us as a campus community to really show those pride points and to showcase what’s changing, what’s new, what’s coming (and) what we’re doing, and that (makes) alumni super proud to look back at their university to see how much growth and evolution is happening,” Miller said.

For Colette Sterling, assistant director of Parent and Family Programs, Homecoming & Family Weekend is done for the families of students at CSU to connect with the school’s traditions and history, tying them to the school on a deeper level by interacting with different elements of the university.

“I love getting to see the traditions families create as a result of the traditions that we start for their student,” Sterling said. “It’s one of those major ways of creating a sense of community.”

Sterling also mentioned the impact Homecoming has on the Fort Collins community, with its connection to CSU allowing community members to interact with students and traditions, even with student-focused events like the lighting of the A.

“Even though it’s student-facing, it really ties in a lot of community members to be involved with our students and to feel like they have a place at CSU too so that CSU isn’t an insular place,” Sterling said.

The perspective of current students also comes into play when discussing the importance of Homecoming at CSU. For students, Homecoming acts as a means to celebrate their hard work on campus and recognize achievements from the first half of the semester.

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“We want to let the students just relax a little bit and say, ‘Hey, we understand you’re working really hard, and we appreciate you,’” said Reed Vega, a CSU student and director of traditions and programs for the Associated Students of Colorado State University.

Vega is responsible for the weekend’s Homecoming student tailgate, one of the ways CSU and its organizations aim to celebrate the hard work students have put in and signify a continuation of recognizing hard work from students as they move through the year.

“My overarching goal is to create a sense of community at CSU and to also make the students proud to be a CSU Ram,” Vega said.

Jess Dyrdahl, ASCSU’s assistant director/adviser, said reconnecting with old friends made in her years in college is the importance she assigns to Homecoming weekend, recalling a meeting during which she recognized familiar names on an RSVP list of Homecoming attendees.

“It’s people that were a big part of your life, whether it was a semester or multiple years, and it’s just a chance to then come back together,” Dyrdahl said.

Homecoming remains one of the most consistent traditions at CSU, with this year’s events aiming to promote a sense of “Ram Pride,” Dyrdahl said. 

“There’s something for everyone, regardless of what your connection was to CSU,” Dyrdahl said.

Reach DJ Vicente at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @DeejMako.