Breakfast, parade, golf and then football, spice Shepherd homecoming
SHEPHERDSTOWN — It’s three days of homecoming activities at Shepherd University this weekend.
Golf at Cress Creek. Founder’s Day Celebration. The Alumni Breakfast on the lawn at McMurran Hall. A homecoming parade coursing down German Street.
And then the football game this year against Kutztown, an unbeaten conference team that already owns wins over California, Gannon and Assumption.
The last time Shepherd saw Kutztown was on a brutally cold day in late Nov. 2010, when the Rams charged from behind in the late, going to overhaul a Golden Bear lead that lifted Shepherd to a one-touchdown win in the NCAA Division national playoff game.
The steady wind that blew nothing but bad news to anybody sitting in the stands made the 29-degree temperature seem more ripe for polar bears and leopard seals than human beings.
Kutztown went 9-2 with its regular season schedule a year ago. Playoff football came again to the Golden Bears.
Homecoming means contests among the sororities and alumni sightseeing places, which didn’t even exist when they roamed the campus as students. Graduating classes hold their reunions and the 50-year Emeritus Class share stories of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Shepherd, new to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference this year, comes out of its dressing quarters in the Kenneth Boone Fieldhouse to be greeted by the packed grandstand on its side of the field.
Kutztown enters astride the sideline on the East side of the newly-refurbished playing surface, to the cheers of relatives, some students and those actually rooting for Shepherd, who have spilled over from the other side of Ram Stadium.
Shepherd is in the East Division of the PSAC, where West Chester, Kutztown and Shippensburg usually go to the mat in vying for the top spot. Shippensburg has been staggering this season and its place as a contender will fall to either East Stroudsburg or Shepherd . . . or both.
The West Division of the conference is completely owned by Slippery Rock, Indiana and California — none of which Shepherd plays this season.
At halftime, the public address announcer gives out the names of sororities and groups that have been found to be the best in certain categories. Floats from the parade have been judged and those winners are recognized for a smattering of cheering followers.
Winners in the golf tournament will be told to the public. Alumni will be reminded there will be more food served on the McMurran lawn after the completion of the game.
Shepherd, with its usually electric passing game, and Kutztown, with its grudging defense against the run, will stage a tense game showing the importance of the outcome to either side’s conference and playoff chances.
Homecoming in 2019. It comes early this season. But its time-honored rituals and traditions are just as important to the participants in late September as they would be in late October.