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.