Cyclones Everywhere

Written by Melea Reicks Licht | Photos by Matt Van Winkle

ISU vs West Virginia Homecoming 2022

Student-Powered, Time-Honored Traditions Keep Alumni Coming Back

The stage is set. Top per­formers from the week’s competitions and VIP alumni speakers are ready to take the mic. Outdoor games and activities and spirit-boosting cardinal and gold pompoms and light wands are at the ready.

Bradleigh Schaefer and Drew Moine co-chair this signature Friday night event at the ISU Alumni Center. Together they and their crew have dreamed, prepped, and planned for months, crafting the outdoor celebra­tion to attract hundreds to thousands of Iowa Staters.

“People love to be a part of the Pep Rally, so the planning has been simple,” Schaefer says. “The hard part came when we saw the weather forecast this week.”

A low of 37 degrees and 100% chance of rain.

They put out the call to students, staff, and the Ames community for tents, patio heaters, and sandbags and sourced hundreds of ponchos and hand­warmers to keep their guests comfort­able. They revised and rewrote plans. If worse came to worse and lightning appeared, they would move the event inside and provide a livestream.

“We learned a lot about working together as a team, relying on each other, our plans, and our leadership abilities,” says Schaefer, a junior in agricultural communications and jour­nalism and mass communications from Cambridge, Illinois, and a member of Alpha Delta Pi.

Moine is a senior in management of information systems from Nashua, Iowa. Both say friendships and the opportunity to celebrate Iowa State motivated them to become a part of Homecoming Central.

Thirty-five students make up Home­coming Central, a committee of the ISU Alumni Association’s Student Alumni Leadership Council (SALC – formerly the Student Alumni Association). Homecoming subcommittee members, or Cy Squad, total 26. Together, they plan and implement most aspects of Iowa State’s 110-year-old tradition.

Moine says he gained a good foundation in leadership via the ISU Alumni Association’s First Year Leadership League (a program SALC launched in 2019). He had so much fun, he signed up for Homecoming Central to stay involved.

“Homecoming is more than just a foot­ball game,” he says. “It’s a great oppor­tunity for current students and alumni to come together and celebrate what Iowa State has done for them and people they’ve met here. People are invested in each other and want the entire week, not just their event, to be successful — for each other but also for Iowa State.”

Initial plans for Homecoming 2022 started a year prior. Students log five to 10 hours of committee work, plan­ning, and communication each week for months leading up to the event.

Lauren Snyder and Ian Johnson are Homecoming Central co-directors. Snyder is a senior in event management and public relations from Carroll, Iowa. Johnson is a junior in animal science from Marysville, Ohio, and a member of Alpha Gamma Rho.

The duo keeps Homecoming Central on track by coordinating with the university and alumni association and checking in regularly with subcommit­tees and event chairs.

Snyder joined Homecoming Central after learning about the event in her dorm as a freshman.

“I wish students knew you didn’t have to be in a fraternity or sorority to be in homecoming — that’s just the points competition. So many events aren’t point-related. Yell Like Hell and most all our events are open to all,” she says.

Snyder’s grown a lot this year. She’s learned to navigate bureaucracy, communicate with university and city officials, and address problems head on. She admits she’s also gotten better about keeping her cool.

Three Ways Homecoming Helped in 2022

  • 225+

    Handwritten cards sent to nursing home residents in Ames

  • 2,068

    Raised for Lutheran Services of Iowa by 5K participants

  • 16,670

    Pounds of canned food and hygiene items collected for United Way

“I’m less impulsive about responding when I get fired up and stressed,” Snyder says. “Now I can take a step back, think, then respond.”

Kaley Severn is manager of student programs for the ISU Alumni Associ­ation. She’s watched Snyder’s growth firsthand, and that of many students in Homecoming Central.

Running meetings, bringing a group to consensus, troubleshooting event management issues, creating a budget, landing and keeping sponsors, sales and marketing, and risk management are all examples of the type of career-ready skills students hone while plan­ning and hosting one of Iowa State’s most beloved traditions.

“When students run into a problem, they know it’s their responsibility to solve it, but not at the risk of their per­sonal safety,” Severn says. “I encourage them to use all the resources available, including their peers, to see if they can solve it themselves. Then, if they’re still struggling, I’m there for them.”

Severn (’21 event management), was involved in homecoming as a student. She was a painted participant in Yell Like Hell among other events.

While the weather turned taxing for this year’s team, she says they rose to the challenge and drew crowds of Iowa Staters at events throughout the week. They served more than 7,000 Food on Campus meals and even the rain couldn’t dampen Cyclone spirit at the Pep Rally.

“Whether it be working with a group, overcoming roadblocks, or their own insecurities, there were several moments this week when I saw students dig deep and overcome. The new kick-off event is a perfect example. Those students had to keep adjusting their plans because of factors outside their control. Starting with the 5K that morning, the kick-off event, and tournaments, Sunday was a 15-hour-day, and they all still loved each other at the end!”

Homecoming is funded by ISU Student Government, the ISU Alumni Asso­ciation, and the Julie Larson Student Leadership Programs Endowment with support from exclusive homecoming housing sponsor Campustown.


Student Leaders