Tailgaters took the party to the parking lot for Homecoming 2017 on Oct. 14.
Frisbees and footballs were flying, hula hoops were spinning and food truck vendors were passing out barbeque chicken and tacos as an autumn chill gave way to a warm sun in the parking lot alongside the SUNY Oswego Athletic fields near Romney Field House. Student clubs provided entertainment—including the SUNY Oswego Image Step Team dancers and the Vocal Effect singers—and a live student band, oGogle, and a DJ kept the party going.
“The weather is perfect,” said Rachel Cronin ’19, a human resource major, as she helped prepare a grill for hotdogs on behalf of Campus Recreation prior to the men’s Homecoming soccer game against Geneseo. Temperatures reached the 70s as more than 500 gathered and celebrated on tailgate “plots”—often marked by canopy tents decorated with balloons and streamers. Chalk drawings and non-stop corn hole games were spread about the parking lot, as party-goers danced, took photos and shared their Oswego pride.
Alumni took to the pavement as well; Graduates Of the Last Decade (GOLD) Leadership Council President Austin Byrd ’10 and Vice President Steve DiMarzo ’11 M’15 were among the alumni at the tailgate, firing up the grill. “I love coming back to campus,” Byrd said.
The tailgate ran throughout the day as a sort of base camp for Homecoming sporting events and other activities: Oswego men’s soccer tallied a nailbiter loss by one goal late in the game against Geneseo; club baseball, club rugby and others played at fields around campus as part of the Homecoming games; and The Great Pumpkin Run and Walk for both students and alumni to race—or meander—around campus benefitted the Blessings in a Backpack program, which provides food on the weekends for elementary school children in the Oswego area who might otherwise go hungry. There was also a reception for President’s Circle, Sheldon Legacy Society and 25-year or more Loyal Lakers Society donors, and a happy hour for Graduates Of the Last Decade.
During a break in the action at the Homecoming soccer game, inductees of the Class of 2017 SUNY Oswego Athletic Hall of Fame were honored at mid-field; they were again honored later in the day at an induction ceremony and dinner in Sheldon Hall. See related story.
Earlier in the day, more than 200 scholarship donors and recipients met for the Scholars Breakfast in the Sheldon Hall Ballroom, where Yherelly Almanzar ’18 received a standing ovation for her remarks on behalf of all of the students who benefit from privately funded scholarships at the college.
Yherelly Almanzar ’18 is the recipient of the Jeffrey ’92 and Ginger Bray Sorensen ’93 Scholarship.
“I cannot express to you how overwhelmed and grateful I was when I heard the news that I had received this scholarship,” said Almanzar, who moved to New York City from the Dominican Republic as a teen who spoke only Spanish; she went on to be valedictorian of her high school. Almanzar, a human development major who began college at only 16 years old, thanked her mother and the Sorensens, who, she said, “have encouraged me, through cards and emails, and I consider them part of my family.”
Jeff Sorensen, who spoke on behalf of SUNY Oswego’s scholarship benefactors, thanked his fellow alumni donors and encouraged them to share their stories of helping current students.
“Students, the alumni are really rooting for you,” said Sorensen, who is a member of the Oswego Alumni Association Board of Directors. “Seize the opportunity.”
The breakfast was attended by alumni spanning as far back as the 1940s, who celebrated the $34.7 million college endowment, and the 350-plus, donor-supported scholarships totaling more than $1.5 million available to students at SUNY Oswego annually. Mark Baum ’81, an Oswego College Foundation board member and a scholarship donor, served as the event’s emcee.
Homecoming Day events fell on the heels of student spirit week events, including Green and Gold Day and the second annual Class Cab, a popular event in which the Future Alumni Network (FANs) members take students around campus in a golf cart while asking a series of Oswego-related trivia questions for prizes.