Ask Sudsy- October, 2017
When did USF Homecoming begin and how was it celebrated at USFSP?
The first USF Homecoming was held in 1973 in conjunction with basketball. (USF’s first basketball game was played in Tampa on Dec. 4, 1970, against the University of Florida. Happily, USF won 85-78.) USF’s second annual Homecoming, Jan. 14-20, 1974, featured a basketball game, dance, and a talk by comedian-politician Dick Gregory.
Homecoming was connected to the winter-spring basketball season until the arrival of football in 1997. Like USF’s athletic program, Homecoming activities continued to expand over the next years.
Early on, USF St. Petersburg students joined in the collegial tradition of Homecoming. In its Jan. 24, 1974 edition, the Crow’s Nest saluted the Student Education Association (SEA) for co-producing its recent Homecoming Sock Hop with the USF Pinellas Alumni Chapter. Bonus: SEA had over 80 students in its membership.
Connecting with alumni has always been an institutional priority. The St. Petersburg Chapter of the USF Alumni Association won the first ever outstanding chapter award in 1979. Fourteen chapters were in competition which was based on four areas of USF support: legislative, fund raising, scholarship recruiting and selection, and public relations. Chapter president Lou Kubler received the award at the USF Homecoming banquet on Feb. 17, 1979 in Tampa.
In December 1996, USF President Betty Castor unveiled a new logo on at a press conference—harkening to the long-awaited arrival of USF football.
USF’s entry into NCAA Division-II “Foot-Bull” arrived with its inaugural game on Sept. 6, 1997. Subsequently, Homecoming moved to the Fall semester to become an integral part of football season and campus life.
“Students and alumni are excited we’ll have a team here locally. We support it whole-heartedly,” USFSP Student Government President Diana DeVore told the Crow’s Nest (Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 1997). The St. Petersburg campus community enthusiastically produced its own Homecoming programs while continuing to participate in USF System activities.
Some examples: USFSP’s Super Bull Bash (Nov. 1-6, 1999) offered sign decorating, cheer phone decorating, and a barbecue pool party. Super Bull V in 2001 featured “Fun in the Sun” with Rocky the mechanical bull—plus a bus ride to the Homecoming game.
On November 8, 2002, USF St. Pete students were officially selected to the USF Homecoming Court. Sue Sietsma and Rod Nussey represented USFSP as Duchess and Duke. This tradition would continue until 2015 when USF St. Petersburg students Cynthia Wyre and Jared Bolton became the first official USFSP Homecoming King and Queen.
With the addition of Harborwalk in 2009, USFSP Homecoming revelries stretched further across campus, linking waterfront festivities, such as the popular cardboard boat races, to wall-climbing and carnival amusements near the University Student Center. Always with balloons a-plenty!