Emerson hosts retooled, improved homecoming

by Beacon Staff • September 30, 2009

Homecoming kicked off Saturday with lots of cheers and school spirit. There was a smattering

of purple and gold T-shirts that Sept. 26 morning, when current Lions athletes, alums and faculty gathered around The Field at Rotch Playground to celebrate another alumni-filled weekend.,Emerson's second annual Athletics

Homecoming kicked off Saturday with lots of cheers and school spirit. There was a smattering

of purple and gold T-shirts that Sept. 26 morning, when current Lions athletes, alums and faculty gathered around The Field at Rotch Playground to celebrate another alumni-filled weekend.

"[One of the reasons] for this homecoming was to create a better network with athletic alumni," Director of Athletics Kristin Parnell said. "We wanted to reach out to former student-athletes."

More than 100 people attended the various athletic events. Unlike last year's first-ever homecoming,

where the alumni attended both women's and men's cross-country meets at Franklin Park, watched a Boston Celtics game at the TD Garden and participated in an extra day of activities, this year's homecoming events were more compact.

Jay O'Connor, who graduated in '06, attended the event and said it felt great to be back at Emerson.

"[This homecoming] is a great opportunity to see old friends," he said. "I love to see how outstanding

and committed the Athletics

administration and coaches are."

Parnell, who worked with men's basketball coach Henry Smith, said there was only a day of activities because it was a little hectic for alumni to get everywhere

last year.

Instead, the Department of Athletics and Alumni Relations presented the former Lions with a special treat: a full day of athletic

events and a party at Fenway Park.

"It was a unique idea that we had [to have a party at Fenway Park]," Smith said. "There was no Red Sox game at the stadium, so we wanted something unique for our alumni."

Saturday's events started off with an alumni-filled softball game, where baseball coach Dave Hanley and women's softball coach Phil McElroy each pitched for their respective teams. All the graduated Lions split themselves up into the two teams, where Hanley's team won 8-7.

"We had a great turnout," McElroy said. "It's such a good time having all these different kids come back because we try and stay in touch with everyone."

After the softball game, many alumni and coaches watched the women's tennis team defeat Johnson Wales University at Chestnut Hill, 6-3. A men's and women's soccer double-header ensued, ending in victories

for both Lions teams, which defeated Rivier College, 2-1 and 5-1, respectively.

Later that night, a party of 50 alumni went to Fenway Park, where they enjoyed food, beverages

and watched the Red Sox play the New York Yankees on TV.

While Parnell said she doesn't know if next year's homecoming will be held at Fenway Park, she said she'll be awaiting feedback to determine what to do for next year's event. Smith said they might try showcasing the new Brown-Plofker gym to a larger crowd.

And while this homecoming is now over, another event geared towards the Lion elders is being developed for next semester. According to Parnell and Smith, there will be an alumni reception in Los Angeles on Jan. 4 next year.

The current men's basketball team will play a tournament at Occidental College, while the women's team will play at Chapman

University and La Sierra University later that week. All three schools are located in southern California. Parnell also said because the homecoming was at Emerson, having another event on the west coast would be exciting.

"We want the reputation that the alumni take care of the alumni," she said.

But in order for this event and the athletic homecomings to gain attendees, the Department of Athletics and Alumni Relations are networking to get the word out.

Alumni Relations Coordinator Stephanie Morrison said she used Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on Emerson's network to reach out to former student-athletes. Furthermore, she said the department

is using an e-mailing blast system, which has proved successful.

"We like that we have a strong alumni network. Student-athletes

like it too. When we have a positive fan base, it motivates alumni and pumps them up," Parnell said.

Overall, she said she felt the homecoming weekend ended successfully.

"[My favorite part was] when the current student-athletes reunited with their former teammates,"

Parnell said. "To see the genuine happiness on their faces to see each other is great."