If you attend UNCW then there are many traditions that you are probably aware of. Wagsgiving, Ooze Ball, and maybe even Hawk it Out. There is one that you might not be aware of, and that would be Homecoming. Wait, what? Shouldn’t Homecoming be one of the biggest events of the year? Well you would be right if it were any other school. For various reasons our Homecoming is not as big as other universities. Some blame the lack of a football team, others say it is our overall school attitude, while others claim there is a gap between awareness and motivation to attend.
For UNCW, Homecoming can be an opportunity to strengthen the sense of community among current students, alumni, and the surrounding populace. Uniting for the same purpose, to support the same school and cheer for the same team, instills a firm sense of pride. Pride can be a powerful tool. Think of UNC Chapel Hill. UNC students, alumni, and even fans have a strong sense of pride in their school and in their team. Most everybody knows who the Tar Heels are and a large number of people want to be part of their team in one way or another. Through this, the students, alumni, and fans are creating awareness. This is called Word of Mouth Marketing and allows for the marketing campaign to basically run itself. It is a necessary tool in creating a lasting tradition and instilling a strong sense of pride. So what pride essentially does, is ensure that no matter what, the school will always have a market for new students and an ever-lasting fan base.
The question is, how can Homecoming become a successful tradition? It is a common assumption that our Homecoming participation is low because we do not have a football team, which is also why our Homecoming is in the spring. However, if we stay with the example of UNC Chapel Hill, we see that a football team is not what makes the Homecoming event successful. Their fan base lies largely in their basketball team just like UNCW’s. The issue comes in the form of getting people motivated. Motivation begins with awareness and bridging the gap between the two starts with promoting involvement opportunities. People care more about events if they have a hand in creating them.
There are ways for students and student organizations to be involved in Homecoming. Some include participating in the annual banner contest, the Intercultural Fest (iFest), and by competing for Homecoming King and Queen. One of the most successfully advertised Homecoming event is Dub Idol. This is one of the first traditions that many freshmen hear about even before they arrive. If every event were advertised and instilled into the students as much as Dub Idol then the level of involvement could potentially increase. Implementing some new advertising techniques could be a start so the lesser known events become a staple. There is already an emphasis on reaching alumni, but in order to target the students, utilizing Social Media is one of the best options.
Overall, Homecoming is a tradition that every UNCW affiliate could participate in and has the potential to create an environment that allows students, past and present, to market their spirit and their pride. It is difficult to change a mindset, but Homecoming is moving in the right direction and with a little help from students it can become one of the most anticipated events of the year. One thing is for sure, we will be out this weekend participating in any events we can in order to increase student involvement and show our support for UNCW’s Homecoming.
-Austin, Jonathan, & Kaela