Alumni Return for Homecoming

Sarah Orbuch, Staff Writer

At a small school, it is obvious when there are new faces on campus. If you happened to walk by the athletics facilities this past weekend, you would have seen dozens of people walking around in their old Oberlin College athletics gear, greeting old friends, meeting new athletics staff and looking at plans for the new athletics facility. All of these people returned to campus for the jam-packed Oberlin Athletics Homecoming Weekend.

Every year, the Heisman Club Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony kicks off the Homecoming festivities on Friday night. Athletics administration, alumni, coaches and captains are invited to the ceremony.

Women’s soccer captain and senior Sarah Andrews said she enjoyed the experience.

“It was cool to see the athletic greats that have come before me. Their accomplishments were pretty amazing. As a member of a team sport, it is really hard to leave such a distinct mark in our school’s history, but it was cool that these people managed to do so. Their accomplishments just showed that we have the propensity to be great at academics and athletics.”

Any student-athlete who has been out of Oberlin for 10 years can be nominated for the Hall of Fame. A committee through the Heisman Club reviews the selections every year and votes on five people to induct.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is the highest achievement that any athlete can receive from Oberlin College; it is one of the pinnacle events,” said Athletics Director Natalie Winkelfoos.

Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Physical Education Creg Jantz concurred.

“It is a huge event. You want your grandchildren to know that you did something during your career,” Jantz said. “Your picture is always going to be up on the wall, and 30 or 40 years from now, your descendants can come see that their greatgrandfather or grandmother was inducted into the Hall of Fame.”

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was just one of many events scheduled for alumni last weekend. On Saturday, many teams hosted alumni games where current players competed against alumni and coaches.

“One of the greatest things about Homecoming Weekend are the alumni games,” said Winkelfoos. “The alumni live and die for this weekend; it is really important for them. They get the opportunity to play and relive those moments that connected them with their teammates all over again.”

Participants in the game ranged from the player who began the lacrosse program to last season’s team members.

“The alumni always want to feel like they are still connected to our program. The game is always a great opportunity for them to meet the new players, reconnect with old teammates and see how the team has progressed since their time in the program,” said senior and lacrosse captain Paul Paschke.

But the weekend didn’t go as well for the football team despite their home field advantage.

On Saturday, the football team headlined the weekend and played the visiting Kenyon College Lords. It was a nail-biter game that left the Yeomen up 14–13 by halftime. The second half proved more difficult for the Yeomen who struggled to get points on the board. Although the final score was not in their favor, the Yeomen defensive line put forth an outstanding performance, led by seniors Kyle Kessler, Kirby Livingston and Zach Kisley.

“Although we would have preferred a different outcome, it was still a special game,” said Kisley. “The alumni from the 1963 football team were our honorary captains and walked out onto the field with us. It made our seniors feel like they were a part of something bigger than ourselves and solidified our spot as the current leaders of the program.”

Other teams had impressive games as well. Field hockey put up a tough fight against Denison University, and the men’s soccer team defeated the Little Giants of Wabash College 4–0.

The homecoming events concluded on Sunday with the baseball alumni Home Run derby, and the Special Olympics Swim Meet.

Winkelfoos believed the weekend was a success and could not isolate one event that made it stand out. “It’s the entire weekend, there is not one moment. It’s seeing the reactions of people, and seeing the sparkle when the alumni return to campus and see that some things have changed. It’s seeing alums connect with their former teammates and coaches, and it’s watching people hug and share a laugh.”

Jantz, for whom this was his first Oberlin Homecoming, was impressed as well. “I was really amazed by how truly moved people were and how excited they were to be back on campus,” he said. “I have been involved at Homecomings at other campuses and at high schools, and although they are nice, the Oberlin one is unbelievable for me because people truly love this place and love to return.”