What happens when you mix a wine tour and yoga in the grass with Spring Break, Mardi Gras and a live concert?
You get Florida Gulf Coast University’s unique twist on honoring students past and present — Homecoming Meets Alumni Weekend 2017. That’s what’s coming to campus the week of Feb. 6-11, and the timing is perfect for such a grandiose event with FGCU celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout 2017 while honoring the legacy of retiring President Wilson G. Bradshaw, who will step down this summer after 10 years of leading FGCU’s spectacular growth.
At some schools, it might be tough to generate enthusiasm for such an undertaking without a football game as the showcase event. But when your university is known as “Dunk City,” men’s and women’s basketball games on Feb. 11 against Atlantic Sun Conference rival Kennesaw State will do just fine as the weekend’s sports attraction.
“As students, Homecoming is something that we hear about all over college campuses throughout the nation, but not here at FGCU,” said Student Government President and FGCU Trustee Thieldens Elneus. “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.”
But even without the basketball games, organizers on both the student and alumni sides have enough fun planned to get the party — and a new tradition — off to a rollicking start.
Students have six days of partying 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 the featured musical act R City, a duo who also have released music as Rock City and Planet VI. Formed in 2003 in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the duo are brothers Theron and Timothy Thomas, who use the stage names A.I. and Uptown AP, respectively. Their debut album, “What Dreams Are Made Of,” was released in 2015, and they are known for their worldwide hit “Locked Away” featuring Adam Levine.
Other student-led Homecoming activities will include:
- Make Your Mark Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 6, a morning of fun and games on the Library Lawn fashioned after the Olympics, sponsored by the Student Organization Council;
- EagleQuarter from 7 to 9 p.m. 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 from 2 to 5 m. around the SoVi pool, almost like a warmup bash for Spring Break; and an EagleMania gathering from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Recreation Outdoor Complex next to Alico Arena with DJ Talll Tom that’s expected to include FGCU basketball players as special guests. The party will continue inside Alico Arena at 7 p.m. when the women’s basketball team hosts North Florida;
- An Evening Under the Stars gala presented from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 10 by the Greek Programming Council on the Library Lawn;
- And an Alumni Avenue Tailgate from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the ROC before the men’s basketball game, courtesy of the Student Alumni Association.
Meanwhile, the FGCU Alumni Association moves in later in the week with its yearly tribute to the 25,000 graduated Eagles — the 10th annual Alumni Weekend from Feb. 9-11.
“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.”
- A Walking Wine Tour starting from the Alumni Terrace in the Cohen Center at 6 p.m. Feb. 9, a guided stroll around campus with stops featuring appetizers and samples from the Alumni Association Wine Collection;
- Dine with the Deans at noon Feb. 10 followed by the Alumni Awards at 6 p.m. The luncheon gathering at various spots on campus will connect alumni with the deans from their respective colleges for updates. The Alumni Awards in the Cohen Center ballroom will honor this year’s inductees to the Alumni of Distinction and Soaring Eagles societies — FGCU’s greatest tributes to alumni who have made an impact since graduating;
- A big day on Feb. 11 begins at 9 a.m. with Yoga on the ROC, and continues at 10 a.m. when former RAs get together at a Housing Resident Assistant Reunion Brunch at nearby Grandezza Country Club. Then it’s back on campus for a 12:30 p.m. basketball scrimmage in Alico Arena featuring former Eagles players and cheerleaders. A 5 p.m. Tailgate Party before the men’s basketball game continues into Alico Arena for tipoff, where at 7 p.m., Forever an Eagle members enjoy an exclusive reception in the hospitality suite.