The rain couldn’t keep us away, Blue and Gold is thicker than water.
Past and present met that day, every MC son and MC daughter.
On Saturday, Oct. 26, Mississippi College observed the culmination of its annual Homecoming Week. After a busy week of reunions and get-togethers, dinners and awards, cheer-offs and Follies, alumni and current students met in A.E. Wood Coliseum for a tailgate lunch. The rain drove the event usually reserved for the Quad, into the Coliseum, but the atmosphere was as warm with fellowship as any game day in the sun.
Beneath the white dome and around on the walkway perched the tents of clubs and tribes, student associations and academic departments, their tables overflowing with everything from hors d’oeuvres to pots filled with chili or jambalaya. Beneath that was a sea of tables and a stage floating on a blue tarp which covered the pine floor. The stage was dressed in large plots of yellow chrysanthemums and sunflowers, and fall pumpkins with a unique Choctaw touch.
“Dr. Thompson would only accept blue or gold pumpkins,” said senior Chapman Cooper of the Homecoming Committee as she pointed to the arrangements. Sure enough, what used to be bright orange was now varying shades of blue, from deep navy to robin’s egg, or gold, like an antique treasure.
This reporter accompanied the judges as they scrutinized the tailgates of the clubs and tribes in order to see their work without being trampled. Each took the Homecoming theme “Same Bricks, Different Stories” and ran with it in their own ways. Some showcased composites of member classes separated by two decades, others constructed timelines of Mississippi College history; regardless, all emphasized the brotherhood and sisterhood they cherish with each other within their organizations.
Also impressive were the unique menus. At a glance: Shrimp ‘n’ Grits with Civitan Men’s Club; Chenoa Social Tribe’s table-sized football field of sandwiches, chips and dips; Shawreth Men’s Club’s chili and glass bottle Cokes; Kissimmee Social Tribe’s divine – and I do mean divine – homemade jambalaya (KT would go on to win the tailgate contest); ribs and chess squares by Rotaract Men’s Service Club; classic Chick-fil-A nuggets and glass bottle Cokes at Decerto Men’s Service Club; Nenamoosha Social Tribe’s chocolate dipped pretzel sticks and baked potato bar; Swannanoa Social Tribe’s pulled pork sandwiches and “Dirt Cups” of pudding and crumbled Oreos; the scrumptious steak and pineapple kabobs of Kokoa Men’s Service Club; and the sandwiches and pastel-colored sugar cookies of Laguna Social Tribe.
Next up was the presentation pageant of the 2019 Homecoming Court. Representing in stunning radiance, in order of class from freshman to senior, were Emily Henderson, Lauren Cummings, Jordan Ball, and Chandler Greenwood. Rachel Donegan was Maid of Honor, and Natalie Fehrenbacher was crowned Homecoming Queen.
After all this, the mingling continued. A freshman friend of mine, John Garrett Walters, introduced me to his father, Nick Walters, who graduated from MC 20 years ago. When asked what was the biggest change he’s seen since graduation, Walters answered, “using the word ‘dance’ and admitting we danced on campus.” The political science grad recalled gameday Saturdays devoid of tailgates and no visitation between men’s and women’s dorms. Since the implementation of both, Walters said, the campus camaraderie has greatly improved. Walters introduced me to his coterie of friends, including several former contributors to The Collegian: Darrell Jones, who served as Student Body President from 1988-1989, wrote for the sports section, and Randy Youngblood was Ad Manager.
As the hour for kickoff approached, A.E. Wood folded its tailgates like card houses and proceeded out into the frigid air toward Robinson Hale Stadium for the game against Shorter University. The storms of the past several stays had substantially cooled what should have been an otherwise balmy mid-October Saturday. The Shirtless for Spirit crew, inexplicably, showed up in all their painted glory. I imagined microscopic ice crystals glazing over their blue and gold chests as junior Bradley Lewis proclaimed he was freezing through heavy breaths.
The potential new members of Civitan were finishing up their customary drumming when the Choctaws descended onto the field in bright gold uniforms, a warm and glowing contrast to the otherwise muted silver sky. Despite the off-and-on drizzle, the stands were packed nearly to capacity.
MC set the tone of the game with a grand touchdown run early in the first quarter. The remaining scores fell to the Choctaws like dominoes, until the score was 31 to 7 in the Choctaw’s favor at the half. The crowd thinned out a little bit as the drizzle returned with a new chill, but the remaining bastion of students picked up the cheer slack with vigor. “Warm up the bus!” they cried as the Choctaws wrested victory from Shorter’s aspiring hands. Though Shorter’s game improved in the final quarters, the Choctaws, nevertheless, won 41 – 20.
In conclusion, this Homecoming was a special one. It proved that neither the hands of time nor the swirling clouds of weather can stop the reunion of the past and the present. Mississippi College’s family of students has endured for 193 years, and, by God’s continued blessing, will endure for 193 more.