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January 13, 2017

1st Homecoming sparks school spirit

Florida Gulf Coast University has established a popular tradition for former students to celebrate the FGCU community at its annual Alumni Weekend. But another hallmark of higher education, Homecoming, has been missing — perhaps because FGCU doesn’t have a football team to connect it with.

That’s about to change.

Instead of tying Homecoming in with football, FGCU is going a different way — pairing the party with Alumni Weekend. So with the university’s 20th anniversary being celebrated throughout 2017, it’s a perfect time to launch the first Homecoming Joins Alumni Weekend celebration, which will take place on and around campus the week of Feb. 6-11.

“As students, Homecoming is something that we hear about all over college campuses throughout the nation, but not here at FGCU,” said Thieldens Elneus, Student Body President and FGCU Trustee. “Student Government’s interest is in starting a campus tradition that will last for many generations, to build school spirit and create a culture of support for our athletics that brings students, alumni and community members together.”

Although there won’t be a gridiron game to rally around, the conjoined FGCU family will find plenty to cheer about in the athletic arena — Alico Arena, to be exact — when the women’s and men’s basketball teams play their counterparts from Kennesaw State on Saturday, Feb. 11.

But that’s only one of many events that will be celebrated that week by Eagles past and present.

Students have six days of fun scheduled, highlighted by the Homecoming Concert 2017 – Night Flight, which takes place on the Library Lawn at 8 p.m. Feb. 9. The sponsoring Programming

Board has signed a headline musical act, but is building anticipation by delaying announcement of the performer or performers until the end of the month.

Other student activities will include Make Your Mark Monday on Feb. 6, a morning of fun and games on the Library Lawn fashioned after the Olympics sponsored by the Student Organization Council; Eagle Quarter on Feb. 7, a Resident Housing Association event fashioned after Mardi Gras in New Orleans; two Student Government-backed events Feb. 8: the Block-Out Day Party in the afternoon around the SoVi pool, and an EagleMania gathering in the evening at the Recreation Outdoor Complex next to Alico Arena that’s expected to include FGCU basketball players as special guests; an Evening Under the Stars gala presented Feb. 10 by the Greek Programming Council on the Library Lawn; and an Alumni Avenue Tailgate at the ROC, courtesy of the Student Alumni Association.

The FGCU Alumni Association moves in later in the week with the annual Alumni Weekend Feb. 9-11. Starting with a Walking Wine Tour from Cohen Center Alumni Terrace on Feb. 9 and ending with the basketball extravaganza on Feb. 11, alumni also will enjoy special events just for them — Dine with the Deans at various spots on campus and the Alumni Awards in the Cohen Center ballroom, both on Feb. 10; and a big day Feb. 11 beginning with Yoga on the Beach at the North Lake Village waterfront, a Resident Assistant Reunion Brunch off campus and an exhibition basketball scrimmage featuring former Eagles players and cheerleaders. A 5 p.m. Tailgate Party before the men’s basketball game continues into Alico Arena after tipoff when Forever an Eagle members enjoy an exclusive reception in the hospitality suite.

“We are thrilled to have more support and engagement during Alumni Weekend as it comes together with Homecoming,” said Angela Kunkle, assistant director of alumni programs. “This is a great opportunity for our events to expand, and opens up new chances for our alumni to come back and get involved in a variety of events — and especially to see what the students are involved in and how the campus has changed. Collaboration with different departments will be a great way to showcase the campus.”

That collaboration began with a Student Government Homecoming Committee that included all student organizations, and then, under the advice of Dr. Mike Rollo, vice president of student affairs, expanded into a campus-wide steering committee to get everyone involved.

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