Homecoming 2010: Blugolds got spirit

Story by Breann Schossow

It’s not hard to find something to do for Homecoming. During the action-packed week, students and alumni alike can expect to find activities that suit their interests while exemplifying the importance of organizations, student involvement and Blugold spirit.

Take senior Shawn Ryser, for example. The president of The Singing Statesmen is feeling the lack of sleep in his life, partly induced by early morning chalking sessions around UW-Eau Claire. But that’s just part of Homecoming, he said, adding that as a member of his organization, he’s been involved in Homecoming planning for four years.

It’s the tricycle races that interest Ryser, who has raced in the competition during his past four years at the university. Each year, he said, he has placed in the top five, taking first place twice.

“I really like that,” he said. “It’s been my favorite Homecoming moment.”

The tricycle race is only one event offered during the week. According to a university news release, other opportunities include the medallion hunt, dance parties in Higherground and sand sculpture building.

Senior Megan Challoner said she is looking forward to a Homecoming – literally – with the return of alumni friends “to get to experience those types of things with them,” such as the parade and the football game.

Challoner said she plans to attend the parade, with hopes of snagging some of the free items thrown from the street. She enjoys the spectacle itself, she said, such as seeing the different floats and all the yards down First Avenue that are sectioned off with caution tape.

Homecoming is an opportunity to see lots of spirit, she said, including costumes and face paint at the football game; aside from that, it also shows off an often over-looked view of student organizations, she said.

Ryser, as a member of one such organization, is also looking forward to the parade as the chance to reminisce about past years – in particular, Homecoming 2007, when the entire organization dressed up as if they were warriors in “Braveheart.”

“We just get so into it, so enthusiastic and have so much fun with it that people enjoy it,” he said.

Ryser said that the float hasn’t entirely been decided for Saturday’s parade, but will involve this year’s police and dog theme.

Senior Lindsey Mittendorf, like Ryser, is working with her organization, the Women’s Concert Chorale, to prepare for Sunday’s parade. So far, she said with a laugh, it’s been a bit of a struggle.

“As of now, we’ve been scrambling trying to get a trailer for the float … all week long,” she said. That hasn’t stopped them from planning designs, though. Usually, they put the float together the day before, or, sometimes even the morning of.

Mittendorf added that Homecoming is an opportunity for people to get to know each other better within their organization and bond with fellow groups.

Her friend, fellow senior Ellen Voermans agreed, adding that it’s also a chance to explore other organizations at the university.

“(Homecoming) is a cool way to get the word out,” she said. “Blugold Organizations Bash (BOB) can only go so far.”

One of Voermans’ must-attend events during festivities is the Blugold Marching Band performance at the football game, while Mittendorf loves Yell Like Hell, Wednesday’s pep rally and Friday night’s Varsity Night Live, which feature some of Eau Claire’s most talented.

Ryser said anyone who really gets involved will realize how much spirit they have for the university, describing campus mall activity during the week as “getting a little loud” and “making other people happy.”

Ryser added that he loves when there are potential students touring the university during the festivities.

“They can’t get the smiles off their faces,” he said. “We love it here that much.”