by Maeve Callahan – firstname.lastname@example.org – Staff Writer
UNC Asheville students prepare to build floats, cheer their team to victory and put on their dancing shoes in anticipation of this weekend’s homecoming festivities.
“I’ve heard all about the homecoming activities and I’m definitely going to the games, but the other activities are not as important as the games are I think,” said Ariana Peden, freshman psychology student.
Homecoming activities begin Thursday afternoon with float building. The first homecoming game happens Thursday night as the women’s basketball team hosts Liberty University.
“We have a new student organization competition where we have invited student organizations to participate in all of the events and receive points and prizes for their efforts, not to mention ultimate bragging rights,” said Director of Student Life Jill Moffitt.
The various participating groups meet together at Highsmith University Union Grotto at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday to start decorating their floats for the Friday parade.
Other activities associated with the three-day homecoming include a pep rally, tailgating, a step show, a dance and much more.
Students say the most important part of homecoming is athletics, according to Halima Flint, junior art student.
“It’s homecoming for basketball. I think there is a dance, too, but I don’t really know any of the details about that,” Flint said.
There are three homecoming basketball games: UNCA women versus Liberty on Thursday at 7 p.m., UNCA women playing Longwood University on Saturday at 2 p.m. and UNCA men hosting Jacksonville State University on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Should UNCA win the Thursday night game, something that has not happened since 2007, according to university officials, Head Coach of the women’s basketball team Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick agreed to donate her game suit and join in the Nearly Naked Mile.
“I hope for my team’s sake that I am running around campus nearly naked in the near future,” Kirkpatrick said.
The Nearly Naked Mile, hosted by the Student Alumni Association, allows students, and hopefully Kirkpatrick, the opportunity to strip down to their bathing suits to run a mile on Thursday at 10 p.m.
Philanthropy and service match the traditional themes of school spirit and pride for UNCA’s homecoming, according to Lucretia King, assistant director of alumni relations and university events.
King said the Black Alumni Association wanted to perform a service project while celebrating both homecoming and their reunion. The Black Alumni Association intends to participate in a day of service on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Asheville Habitat for Humanity.
“We’ve never done anything like this before, so this is our trial run. But the plan is to extend the day of service to all alumni by next year,” King said.
On Friday, the annual Hall of Fame Ceremony remains closed to those without an invitation. The Celebration of Champions, which takes place one hour prior to the Hall of Fame Ceremony, at 5:30 p.m., gives the public an opportunity to meet with both past and present players in the Sherrill Center Concourse.
The homecoming festivities appeal to a variety of students coming from all majors and ages according to Helen O’Donnell, senior literature student.
“When I found out there was a step show on Friday, I got really excited and made plans to go with a bunch of my friends,” O’Donnell said.
Details about all scheduled events for Homecoming 2013 can be found at alumni.unca.edu/homecoming.