Coming home in 2015: a weekend for everyone

What makes the tradition valuable and why we should protect it

Although Homecoming has special meaning for the football team
Although Homecoming has special meaning for the football team

Queen’s Homecoming is an important and meaningful tradition not only for the football team and alumni, but also for the community as a whole. 

It’s a special opportunity to take part in a celebration with distinctive traditions and rituals that display the spirit of the university. As such, Homecoming is an event that we, as Queen’s students, should cherish.

Over the last decade, the Homecoming experience has been somewhat tainted by the reckless behaviour of some students. In recent years, however, Queen’s has reintroduced Homecoming with reasonable success. This year, Kingston police had 66 fewer city-wide calls for service than last year and made five fewer arrests.

Given the significance of Homecoming celebrations to many different groups of people, it’s my hope that students continue to have respect for the Kingston community while they celebrate, so this special event can endure for many generations to come, and we, as future Queen’s alumni, can return to partake in the festivities. 

Homecoming is one of the few events that includes all members of the Queen’s community, whether they’re students, alumni or supporters, all at one venue. The Queen’s pipe band plays in the background after the team scores, students in tricolour regalia fill the stands — at least, for the first half of the game — and engineering students storm the field at halftime to thump their jackets on Richardson field. It’s a unique and, admittedly, a rather odd sight to witness for first-timers.

Homecoming is a significant event to many different groups of people. As a member of the Gaels football team since 2012, I can attest to the significance of Homecoming for the players on the team and, more broadly, for the Queen’s football community. 

For the members of the team, a diverse group hailing from big and small communities across the country, Homecoming is often the pinnacle of the regular season — one of the few times in which we can compete with the support of what feels like an entire university behind us. Moreover, for the fans, Homecoming football games are often quite entertaining to watch. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in numerous exciting Homecoming games throughout my football career, from Queen’s victory over Western in its unofficial 2012 Homecoming to the last-second victory over Laurier in 2013.

To the coaches and supporters of Queen’s football, Homecoming is an opportunity to greet familiar faces and a time to showcase the hard work that so many people devote to the program.

Perhaps most significantly, Homecoming is an important event for Queen’s alumni. It’s especially uplifting when you witness alumni, football affiliated and otherwise, return to their alma mater and relive the experiences of their recent — or not so recent — past. You can feel the excitement in the air when people of all ages revisit a university that changed their lives, visit old friends, roommates and teammates and wear their Queen’s jackets with pride. 

Whether you’re part of the football community or not, Homecoming is a time of celebration that everyone can enjoy. It allows Queen’s affiliates, old and young, to introduce themselves and chat over a beer (or several) and appreciate the good fortune they’ve had to be a part of such a tightly-knit and storied university. 

Those who attended this year’s game witnessed an historic event: the last Homecoming football game played at Richardson Stadium in its current state — a time-honoured, if decrepit, emblem of Queen’s football tradition. 

It’s an exciting time for the university, and the stadium’s revitalization could have important implications for future Homecoming celebrations at Queen’s.

The new and highly-anticipated stadium, in addition to providing a more comfortable viewing experience and allow Queen’s to join the rest of the football community across the country with a refurbished stadium and turf field. 

As Richardson Stadium is slowly dismantled, the many years and memories of an era gone by, a part of me, and I’m sure many others, will miss it. Despite its run-down stands and shabby appearance, Richardson has a certain charm to it, which contributes to the unique experience at Queen’s Homecoming. 

It’s my hope that, along with a new stadium, Homecoming celebrations at Queen’s will also be rejuvenated and its unique traditions preserved. 

Dillon Wamsley is the varsity football team’s kicker and punter and a fourth-year History major and Political Studies minor.

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