Homecoming: How it all began

In 1983, homecoming was born at NSU and it all started with one dance.

Brad Williams, vice-president of Student Affairs, who has been at NSU since 1988, said homecoming consisted of just a dance that was held after a men’s basketball game.

“Homecoming was just a short amount of time and there wasn’t the bigness to what it is now. But it was still fun. People enjoyed homecoming,” he said.

Williams said he’s seen homecoming slowly expand from one day, to two days, to three days, then to one week.

Events in the past have included golf tournaments, alumni baseball games, and bed races. But these events, like many others, only had a short life span at NSU, said Williams.

However, some events have been a mainstay at NSU, like the “Anything Floats” raft races, Flight Deck Follies and the crowning of the homecoming king and queen.

This year will be the 20th annual “Anything Floats” raft races. Williams said the idea started in 1991 after a few students stared at Gold Circle Lake and thought about what it could be used for. The first race only included seven rafts.

“At the first raft race, students started the race at the Gold Circle Lake, but they would go down the whole lake, and, at this time, the library didn’t exist. There was just a tiny road that went all the way across and on both sides of the road was the Gold Circle Lake,” said Williams.

Students would paddle across the lake, pull their rafts out, put them back in the lake and go all the way around the university school and end where the Miami Dolphins now practice.

“Students were exhausted by the time they got to the end of the race. It was hilarious,” said Williams. “As the university started to grow and when they built the library, students couldn’t carry rafts a hundred yards. We started going down and around the lake. It was fun and I’ve seen amazing rafts over the years.”

This year, there are 40 teams partcipating in the raft races. Josh Matthews, junior biology major and president of the Rotaract club, said he enjoys the raft races because it brings a sense of tradition to the school.

“It’s something to build our school upon. It gets all the organizations out and on campus and it brings a large crowd every year,” he said.

Flight Deck Follies is another  long-standing tradition at NSU. It started in 1992, said Williams, but it used to be aligned with Women’s History Month in March, not homecoming week. It was held in the old Flight Deck, which was located in Rosenthal building and the event raised money for the organization, Women in Distress.

Williams said, “We charged $1 to get in and held a comedy competition for women called the Funniest Woman at NSU. It was like the Last Shark Standing where they had to do 3-5 minutes of standup comedy.”

Flight Deck Follies now features men from NSU clubs and organizations who dress in women’s clothing for a beauty pageant and a grand prize.

Brittany Schemtob, junior psychology major, said she is a huge fan of Flight Deck Follies because it gives students a chance to be goofy and compete against each other.

“I was there last year and the Flight Deck was packed to the point where people were standing outside, watching through the windows. It was a very well put on production from Student Activities and is one of the events that show shark pride through homecoming every year,” said Schemtob.

The first Homecoming Tailgate started in 2007, the year the Don Taft University Center was built. Schemtob, who helped plan this year’s tailgate, said she loves this event because it gets the excitement of homecoming week going.

“The feeling in the air at the tailgate is electric. I also love the part of the tailgate where you get to shoot a basketball to win a homecoming shirt. This year’s homecoming shirt is awesome and I’m excited to win one,” she said.

The longest running tradition of homecoming is the dance. However, in 1991 the dance was surrounded by scandal. That year, NSU was still known as the university’s former mascot, the Knights. The Campus Programming Board (now the SEAboard) rented a 6’4” statue of a knight as decoration for the dance. Williams said it looked cool. However, the next day he received a phone call from the rental agency asking for it. It had not been returned. A student had stolen the $2,700 statue.

“It was a huge scandal. There were only Founders, Vettel and CLC [residence halls] back then and we looked in every room under beds and still to this day we never found the knight. Public safety put out an APB because that was a lot of money for us back in the day,” he said.

This year, homecoming is Nov. 2 – 5. The full schedule is available at http://nsunews.nova.edu/mark-calendar-homecoming-2011/.

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