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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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Susannigans: Homecoming Reminds us of UMW’s Atypical School Spirit

It’s the one weekend of the year where everyone wears the UMW hoodies they bought freshman year. The one weekend where students and alumni pretend like they regularly follow UMW athletics. The one weekend where it is perfectly acceptable to shotgun a beer for breakfast.

As alumni of all ages hogged all the parking spots on Hanover Street this Homecoming Weekend, UMW pretended to be a typical university for 48 hours.

I get the sense that Homecoming at Mary Washington is less of a big deal than it is at other schools. Proportionally, the same amount of alcohol is probably consumed, but the reasons behind the intoxication might not be the same. Compared to Virginia Tech’s “Hokie Fever” and UVA’s Cavaliering Wa-hoos, school spirit at Mary Washington feels a little forced.

Is it because we don’t have a football team? Technically our soccer team is supposed fill the role of the dominating athletic force on this campus, but their social influence is hardly significant. UMW students just aren’t that excited about being Eagles.

Morale has definitely improved in recent years. The Princeton Review ranked UMW third in “Least Happy Students” back in 2005, but we haven’t cracked the top 20 since. Sure, most students don’t HATE Mary Wash, but are they particularly passionate about it?

This year’s gloomy weather didn’t help the lack of spirit. This was my final Homecoming weekend as a college student, and I didn’t even make it to the hyped soccer game. After a few too many mimosas at the brunch I hosted at my house, by 4 p.m. I was fast asleep on my living room couch, snoozing to the sound of pouring rain.

When I woke up from my nap that evening, I felt slightly guilty for not braving the downpour to support my fellow Eagles. But after some hip-shaking and rumination at the Talib Kweli concert in Dodd Auditorium later on, I realized that one of the reasons why I love Mary Washington is that fact that people don’t feel the need to obnoxiously flaunt their school spirit. The best way to show my UMW pride was by being my homebody-who-doesn’t-enjoy-rowdy-sporting-events-self. The very self that is accepted and embraced by the Mary Washington community for not fitting the college-kid stereotype.

Maybe Mary Washington needs a Homecoming Weekend. Because we don’t have a football team, our colors are overused and our mascot is unoriginal, Homecoming is the one weekend of the year where the subject of school pride even comes up. Homecoming Weekend reminds us that school spirit doesn’t come from blue face-paint and water bottles filled with vodka. Mary Washington pride can be seen in pick-up Frisbee games on Jefferson Square, guerilla art exhibits showcased by the Nest and that bag-pipe player who practices loudly outside of Virginia Hall.

Next year, when I’m the alumna “coming home” and hogging parking spaces, I’m not going to be nostalgic for that one weekend of keg parties and wild sports games. I’m going to reminisce about bench-sitting on Campus Walk, midnight splashing in the Monroe Fountain and Nugget Night at Seaco.

I’d better go get my fill of those before I graduate.


  1. chubybnny

    hey whats a mimosa?

    do you know if who wan the game?

    we should take a polle and put in the bullet about how nay people went to the game verse how many people went to talib kwalli.

  2. susannahclark

    A mimosa is a mixed drink made out of orange juice and champagne. The soccer game was a tie, you should read the story:

  3. Michelle

    I’m currently a junior, I feel like some friends I know still, after three years, don’t have school spirit because this was not their “first choice” for college and they’re only going here because their parents made them, or it’s one of the cheaper public schools in Virginia. I know a lot of us were ‘wait-listed’ from our top schools, but UMW certainly is a solid school with a well-rounded reputation, and I’ve noticed since freshman year this lack of school spirit. Seriously, gray and navy blue as school colors? Kind of blah, but I understand the historical significance.

    I feel like my school spirit is focused on my major and my education. I fell in love with a major here (Historic Preservation) that isn’t offered anywhere else as a B.A. in Virginia, or frankly most of the United States with a few exceptions. I am proud to be a Historic Preservation major, and Fredericksburg is a great historic location for those of us who are studying here for the major. What I value more about Mary Washington is not the school spirit, but the education and the excellent teachers that I have here. I’m not sure if this is anyone else’s form of school spirit, but that is what I enjoy and celebrate about this school.

    On a side note, one thing about this year’s homecoming that differed was that there wasn’t a formal homecoming dance! I guess the school made up for it with a DJ dance in the Underground and the carnival. However, the formal was the one way I celebrated homecoming in my first two years here. I love dressing up and dancing, and I finally had a date this year! I had actually bought a dress a few weeks ago for the dance, and when I saw that “final homecoming” schedule without a formal, I was kind of upset since I had already spent the money on the dress (thankfully I can wear it for other events). I don’t know if anyone else cared about the homecoming formal, or even missed it like I did, but I hope that we get a formal next year.

  4. lornstein

    I graduated back in 1994, so I am old…but I always liked homecoming as both a student and an alumni when I lived close enough to come back. We always managed to find our own fun in my 4 years at MWC. Soccer games were fun, so was basketball in the old gym. To be honest some of the most fun and spirit was just sitting in the hall down in Russell or shotgunning some beast blue in Madison.

  5. Nowrouz

    so sad i didn’t bump into you this homecoming; i certainly looked for you. wednesdays in the office top my nostalgia list, for sure.

    keep being awesome, miss you tonssss.

  6. Meta

    I’m a ’94 grad, too and I must say the days of ducking down a beast light are way behind me. But I think The Wash gets a bad rap. Like lornstein I loved going to basketball games at good old Goorick and chilling in the dorms. I had a great time at MWC. We also managed to get into some good fun off campus at various houses of fellow students. I know the school colors aren’t as distinct as those at Va Tech or UNC or JMU, but I still wore my blue and grey proudly. And I know we didn’t have the greek party scene like UVA, W&M or Mason, but we made our own fun. The fact that I knew most of the people on campus and I had a great education (I can ace anyone in my family at Jeopardy) was worth the sacrifice of not going to a big Division I football school for me.