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.