Looking back at over 100 years of homecoming

Jack Dorsher, Staff Writer

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Nearly everyone’s favorite part of the school year, homecoming week is a substantial part of the high school and college experience. Students participate in dress up days, get fired up at the pep rally and cheer on their friends and classmates at the football game. The week culminates with a dance after the football game.

Stephanie Livingston
Fargo North Rowdy Crowd cheers at homecoming football game

Everyone knows the classic traditions of homecoming but rarely do people know how they started. The annual Harvard-Yale game has brought alumni back to campus since the 1870s, but Baylor University, University of Illinois, and University of Missouri all claim to be at the origin of the modern homecoming.

According to Active.com, Baylor’s homecoming traditions began in 1909 when the school invited alumni to campus to renew school spirit. There was a parade held, a football game, and a dance for the students. Baylor beat Texas Christian University due to the overwhelming support of students and fans. It wasn’t until 1934 that homecoming became an annual event at Baylor.

University of Illinois’ traditions started when two students planned an event around the Illinois-Chicago game in hopes of ending their losing streak. October 14, 1910 was named by the University as an official homecoming. More than 5,000 extra seats were added to the stadium to house the sea of Illinois fans who witnessed their Fighting Illini claim a 3-0 victory over Chicago.

University of Missouri is accepted by the NCAA as the official originator of homecoming. In 1911, Mizzou alumni were asked to come home to the football game against the University of Kansas and their brand-new stadium. Similar to today’s homecoming, the festivities included a parade, a pep rally, and a football game. The game was anticlimactic and ended in a 3-3 tie.

Fargo North had its first homecoming in the inaugural year in 1965. A homecoming queen was named that year, but a king would not be named until 1979. Some of the original activities surrounding homecoming included a parade, a pep rally, a football game, and a dance, similar to the current homecoming agenda. Gary Mailloux, former Fargo North athletic director and current cross country and track and field coach, has experienced homecomings as a faculty member since 1969.

“The fall of 1969 was the first year I was here. We used to have parades and then the South side would come down here and break into it. They would come down and through the campus, hollering and hooping and honking their horns and just try to be disruptive,” said Mailloux.

Principle Andy Dahlen recalls one controversial year when the homecoming queen winner wasn’t present at coronation.

“The student body selected a homecoming queen and the queen wasn’t in the country. She had taken the week off and had gone on vacation. She was on a cruise ship on the Mediterranean,” Dahlen said. The administration had to announce her as the queen and then give the crown to the girl who had come in second in the voting.

“That was a little controversial,” said Dahlen.

Since 1969, the landscape of homecoming at Fargo North has changed. While the football game and dance remain, activities such as powderpuff football and faculty involvement in the pep fest games have been discontinued.

One year, a team of staff members was involved in one of the relay games at the pep fest alongside four other teams of students. The game involved team members transporting a ball across the gymnasium. The staff jumped out to an early lead and one of the seniors thought it would be a good idea to give the rest of the field a slight handicap. He ran out of the bleachers and tried to knock the ball out of the teacher’s hand. He missed.

“A kid, in 2000, came running across and wanted to just knock the ball out of Emily Schneider’s hand,” reminisced Dahlen. “Instead, he missed it and laid her out flat, just dropped her.” The staff have a much more limited role in the pep fest since, with most of their participation coming from the pie the teacher fundraiser.

“I was up on the balcony watching and the whole crowd gasped,” Dahlen said.

Other pep fest activities that have been toned down in recent years include the Spartacas-Senior Boy dance. After a raunchy performance in 2014 that left students and staff traumatized, the dance has become more censored to be appropriate for all audiences.

Homecoming has remained largely unchanged since its inception, despite a few changes in limitations to the celebration. The school spirit of homecoming is unmatched at any other time of the year, making it the most electric week at Fargo North. The excitement for homecoming doesn’t look like it’s fading away for students and they will continue to enjoy homecoming for decades to come.

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Looking back at over 100 years of homecoming