Featured Image: VWU Flickr | Courtesy
The Homecoming and Family weekend tradition will return to campus during the weekend of Oct. 7. Pictured above are photos from past Homecoming events: TOP: 2021 Homecoming court; MIDDLE: Women’s lacrosse 2019 alumni face-off; BOTTOM: Women’s Track and Field team at 2017 Homecoming parade.
On the Friday and Saturday leading up to Oct. 7, Virginia Wesleyan will be hosting the 2023 Homecoming celebrations. Homecoming week will include spirit days for current Marlins and celebrations for alumni over the weekend.
Shelley Hunter, University Affairs and Presidential Events Coordinator, has helped organize FinFest, which will be taking place on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“The goal was to enhance Homecoming,” Hunter said.
FinFest will have live entertainment from artist Joe Heilman. There will be several food trucks, including Laos Street Food and Kona Ice. Face-painting and funnel cake will be available for free. Wesleyan Engaged will also be hosting a table for Operation Gratitude, where students can decorate cards or lanyards for first responders and military personnel.
Lunch will also be served for a meal swipe as a “cookout kind of meal,” Hunter said. “Hopefully, if people come over and enjoy it, we can continue these types of events.”
Many sports teams will be playing games this weekend. Returning alumni will face off against current spring sports teams, including Women’s Lacrosse, Men’s Lacrosse, Baseball, Softball and Track and Field. The Cheer team and Pep-Band will have opening performances.
The Homecoming dance, the Marlin Gala, will be held on Friday, Oct. 6. Students may vote for the Marlin Majesties.
“There will be two nominees from every year. Voting will occur the week of Homecoming for the crowning of the Marlin majesties at the dance,” Director of Student Engagement Jen Cohen said. The Marlin Gala is open and free to all students.
Those who planned the festivities see great value in Homecoming.
“Homecoming is important, it’s an opportunity to celebrate, and it should be a time for both our current student population and our alumni and families to truly celebrate and think back to and create fond memories,” Cohen said.
Sophomore Andrew Steiner, an employee at Off the Hook, said, “When we were discussing the Homecoming theme, we really wanted to emphasize the part about being a Marlin. In past years, we’ve had themes oriented around Virginia Wesleyan, but it seemed to be more of a side aspect rather than the main focus.”
Senior Emma Lankford, one of Off the Hook’s event supervisors, is also taking part in the organization of Homecoming.
“We want Homecoming to be a place for students to celebrate how unique our school is, as well as celebrate all the achievements that athletics, music and chorus have,” Lankford said. “It’s a great way to celebrate all the achievements that Marlins have had in school now, and also alumni that come back to reunite and tell stories. It’s just a great way for Marlins to bond.”
Lankford emphasized the importance of attending events like Homecoming, whether you’re a first-year, senior or alumni.
“It’s important for the freshman class, because that marks that point of you’re in, you’re settled down. This is your college home now,” Lankford said. “But then, of course, you have the Alumni Weekend. These are the upperclassmen who were participating the same as I am, all showing and being bound together by the common aspect of school pride.”
Steiner was adamant that students branch out and meet people during the day’s events.
Steiner said, “Just bond with the people that you meet here, because you’re gonna make some friends.”
Hunter and Lankford offered suggestions of what students shouldn’t miss.
Hunter said students should “listen to the live music at FinFest.”
Lankford said, “Students should find Bob the Marlin!”
Many people helped to organize the festivities of Homecoming. All the Off the Hook staff, along with Jen Cohen, Shelley Hunter and Tina Mulligan, made significant efforts to bring the weekend together, as well as the unnamed helping hands that organized and will present every event.
“It’s gonna be a roaring good time,” Steiner said.
To find more information regarding Homecoming week, check out Off the Hook’s Instagram page, @marlinsoffthehook.
By Elliot Fylstra