Homecoming is a special time of year for all of AU, but it holds a special meaning for the fall sports teams. Alumni from different generations will make the trip home to watch their teams battle once more. Coaches will have the opportunity to reconnect with former players, as well as their families and children.
Men’s soccer coach Scott Fridley has been at AU for 28 years and has coached a lot of players in his day. He says that homecoming is a very special time of year for him because he has several hundred alumni who will come and be part of the day.
“This year’s homecoming will be really special for us,” said Fridley. “This is the 30th anniversary of our men’s soccer program. Not only that, but we have a big conference game ahead of us, so it should be a pretty special day.”
Thirty years of soccer is surely something to be proud of, but the team is also excited to unveil their newly renovated field to the alumni. In the past several years, the team has worked hard to improve the quality of the pitch, adding concession stands, additions to the team area and more than 100 yards of fencing.
Volleyball coach Tami Miller is now in her 16th season as the head coach of the program. The team will be hosting their first alumni game this season along with their normal homecoming traditions.
“For me, it’s a little more exciting because I have former players coming back,” said Miller. “That’s a great opportunity for me to reconnect with my alumni. Not only that, but I get to see their families and meet their kids. That’s always been very special to me.”
Volleyball is the first sporting event of the day, and no matter what the weather looks like, they get to host their fans in the comfort of O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.
“From a timing standpoint it’s kind of nice,” added Miller. “We have the street fair, and we will catch people coming in from that, but we love that we still get to go out and support all the other teams too.”
Other coaches who will be in action on this day have a different experience ahead of them. Women’s soccer coach Jennifer Myhre is in her eighth season as head coach, while head football coach Steve Rock will be in action for his first homecoming game at AU.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how big homecoming is,” said Rock. “While I might not personally have any alumni at this school, the program has hundreds. I’m excited about getting to meet some of those people.”
For Coach Myhre, homecoming has always been her favorite way to honor the players who have put the program in the position it is in today.
“Our desire to play comes from honoring all those who have worn this jersey,” said Myhre. “Homecoming really serves as a great platform to bring the campus community together to celebrate all the memories that have happened on the court and fields, as well as to inspire those competing to cherish the present time they have.”
The day will mark big games for several teams, specifically volleyball and both of the soccer programs, as they will be playing in their first conference games of the season. Despite this, the coaches plan to prepare their teams as if it were a normal game.
“It’s business as usual for us,” said Fridley. “We prepare to win against all of our conference opponents, and that does not change because of the day.”
“With that being said, homecoming is a very special day,” added Fridley. “It is one big day full of school spirit. That’s what makes it special for our players.”
As Anderson approaches their 101st homecoming, several sports will look to honor their most distinguished alumni. Many teams will be holding alumni games, and the football program will be inducting the undefeated 1993 team into the AU Sports Hall of Fame.
“On Saturday morning we’re going to have breakfast with that undefeated team,” said Rock. “Hopefully we can get some inspiration from those guys. There are a lot of people who are really excited about seeing the resurgence we have been working on.”
The day will be jam-packed with plenty of AU sports. The volleyball team will be facing off against Mount St. Joseph at 12, women’s soccer kicks off against Transylvania at 12:30 followed by the football team facing off against Hanover at 1:30. To finish off the day, the men’s soccer team takes on Transylvania in a battle of two of the top three teams in the conference.