The Durham 500: Another homecoming for the books
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 23:10
Pickup trucks, flags, foldup tables, quite a few handcuffs, early mornings, late nights, traffic tickets, uneducated Durham drivers, loud music (mostly country), lease violations, mud, grills, parents, alumni, beer and boots. With any mass flooding of people into this small college town, there is sure to be some good, bad and ugly.
Homecoming weekend at UNH has come and gone faster than the URI Rams’ team tour bus did this past weekend; and you can only imagine how badly the occupants of that bus wanted to escape the 59-19 beat down they suffered in the blue- and white-shrouded, Wildcat-swarming Durham, N.H.
This year’s homecoming brought out the true collegiate spirit that this university breeds.
Okay, so maybe not all 20,000 ticket purchasers actually made it into Cowell Stadium on Saturday, but that same spirit found inside was surely ringing out on Boulder Field too. Whether you took advantage of the plethora of events and activities offered by the university and its Alumni Association over the course of this past weekend (like the parade, bonfire, 5k road race and fireworks) or took the seemingly more popular approach and grinded away on schoolwork so you could enjoy your tailgate academically guilt-free, chances are you had a memorable homecoming experience.
Homecoming at UNH brings with it such good vibrations. It’s a time for appreciation: donning our colors and flooding social media news feeds with snapshots of the wild weekend; a time for growth: rekindling the UNH flame beneath university alumni who serve as a backbone for our university in so many ways; a time for outreach: UNH colleges welcoming influential global leaders to lecture to its students; and a time for fun: as one of my dear fraternity brothers so cleverly caroled incessantly throughout the weekend, “It’s the most wonderful time … for a beer.”
This past week ushered in more than just a venue for barbecuing with friends and family. The energy on this campus embodied a genuinely family-like environment. And even if some old school Wildcat parents were a little sluggish in their dining hall pace or rusty on their Durham crosswalk etiquette, it still felt great to see the Wildcat Nation of yesteryear arrive donning their UNH letters and Wildcat pride.
The weekend also carried with it a bit of a thought-provoking sentiment for me. What will my involvement with my alma mater be a few decades from now? Will I be the 50-year-old alumnus shotgunning beers with my former colleagues on the same Boulder Field for a homecoming tailgate or will I be too caught up in a career and my family at that point, that I miss homecoming altogether?
I don’t want to be a yearly donor to the UNH Foundation and call it a day. But think about it: Upon your middle school and high school graduations, you were sure that the respective experiences weren’t just going to play a transient role in your life. You were going to go back and visit your favorite teachers, attend graduation for years to come and maybe plan a summer reunion with all of those people who walked beside you down those hallways. Did any of that come to fruition?
Right now it may not seem like it but your Wildcat spirit is as fervent as ever. If you think about it, UNH is sort of your life. It just makes it all the more interesting to imagine what type of role this university will play for you in the future. You’re routinely told that these are the “best years of your life.” Hopefully, when you’re marching down Memorial Field looking at these years in hindsight, you’ll be able to attest to that notion. If that’s the case, I hope to see you at a homecoming 20 years from now.