The Traditions of Homecoming
For Luis Garcia, Homecoming isn’t just about football and having fun, It’s also about raising money to help the DeLand community.
Garcia, president of the Student Homecoming Committee, said he wants to keep the focus on the Greenfeather tradition during this year’s Homecoming from Oct. 30 to Nov. 6. The tradition pits student teams against each other to compete for the Greenfeather Trophy while raising $10,000 for a grant for a project at a local nonprofit agency – this year for a fitness trail at Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare.
“As president, I wanted to make sure the whole community and the school knew how passionate the students are about helping the community while having fun,” said Garcia, a senior majoring in Theatre Arts. “Seeing the growth last year — how big Homecoming was — I wanted to make sure the DeLand community wasn’t forgotten.”
Homecoming has been growing and may attract even larger crowds this year with comedian Damon Wayans Jr. performing at Hatter Howl on Friday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m., said Amy Dedes ’04, associate director of the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement. Wayans starred in the movies, Let’s Be Cops, and The Other Guys, and the TV shows, New Girl, and Happy Ending.
Hatter Howl begins at 6 p.m. Nov. 4 on Rinker Field with a carnival, live music and food trucks. The Homecoming Pep Rally starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Edmunds Center, followed by the Comedy Hour with Wayans. Afterward, everyone is invited to the lighting of the bonfire — a tradition that dates to the 1950s – along with a fireworks show at 9 p.m. on Rinker Field.
“Hatter Howl kicks off the weekend for everybody,” said Dedes. “Last year was really great and we had a great turnout. We’re hoping to build on that for this year. The students and alumni are really excited about Daman Wayans, Jr., but the whole night has a lot of activity with something for everybody.”
Another Homecoming tradition, the 26th Annual Wes Berner Classic Golf Tournament, is set for Friday, Nov. 4, at 8 a.m. at Victoria Hills Golf Course in DeLand. Berner was Stetson’s first soccer and golf coach, and lost his battle with cancer in 1973 at age 52. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the 18 Hatter sports programs. Registration is required and includes a continental breakfast, lunch, gifts and prizes.
Homecoming also is a time when Stetson honors its outstanding alumni and faculty. Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., will present Alumni and University Awards, and give a university update at her annual President’s Champagne Breakfast on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 9 a.m. in the Vera Lea Rinker Native Plant Garden outside the President’s Home.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m., A Celebration of Dr. T. Wayne Bailey will take place in the Stetson Room of the Carlton Union Building. Bailey, a political science professor, retired from Stetson in May after teaching for 53 years. Tickets are $25 for the dinner and will raise money for a scholarship fund in his honor.
The Hatter football team will play Marist College on Saturday, Nov. 5., at 2 p.m. with plenty of tailgating beforehand for alumni, students and others.
Stetson’s Homecoming has grown into a packed week of events since football returned to the university in 2013. A complete list of events can be found at Stetson.edu/homecoming. Alumni are encouraged to register for reunion events, the President’s Breakfast and the Dr. Bailey dinner on the Homecoming website. Alumni who register and stop by the Rinker Welcome Center will receive a few gifts.
$10K Greenfeather Grant to Build Fitness Trail
This year’s Greenfeather Grant will provide $10,000 to Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral HealthCare to build an outdoor fitness trail at the DeLand Men’s Residential Treatment Program. The fitness trail will encourage physical activity for their residents who are seeking treatment for mental health and addiction disorders.
Greenfeather is a longtime Stetson tradition where students give back to the local community by raising funds for the grant through a weeklong competition that includes events like Storefront Painting, Airwaves, Night Out and the Afternoon of Action. Funds will be raised during the week from T-shirt sales, Airwaves and Night Out tickets, and alumni are encouraged to donate online.
“I can’t say enough positive things about the benefits of fitness and exercise coupled with being out in nature,” said Sarah Tracey, a therapist for SMA and Stetson alumna (B.S., 2010; M.A, 2013). “I have seen improvements with myself and my clients, as well.”
Codi Mulberry, director of Greenfeather, oversaw the application process and selection of the grant recipient. He believes Stewart-Marchman Act’s project really stood out among the applicants.
“We felt that their project was the most sustainable that could last not just for one year, or two years, but for years to come,” said Mulberry, a junior majoring in finance.
Carl Gandy, director of Men’s Residential Services at SMA, would like to thank Stetson for the Greenfeather Grant.
“It was something unexpected, and something we very much needed,” he said.
Stewart-Marchman Act strives to build a community where mental illness and addiction “are treated promptly, comprehensively and with respect for all,” according to the agency.
A donor-recognition sign will be placed at the fitness trail to thank Stetson Greenfeather, and Stewart-Marchman-Act will be featured throughout Homecoming 2016 from Oct. 30 through Nov. 6 with the check presented to SMA during half time at the Homecoming football game.
“Go Hatters,” said Tracey.