May 24, 2019  

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Homecoming 2016: Students, Alums, Faculty and Staff Celebrate USM

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The USM Dixie Darlings are ready to perform at homecoming 2016.

Homecoming week – it’s one of Caroline Bradley’s favorite times of year at The University of Southern Mississippi, and the junior Honors College student from Picayune is enjoying every minute of it.

Bradley, who serves as USM’s Student Government Association (SGA) president, says the University has a plethora of activities for everyone connected to the University that can make homecoming 2016 special, from float decorating, a 5K run and benefit golf tournament, community service projects and watching the homecoming parade leading up to the main event – Golden Eagles football. USM will face Conference USA East Division opponent Marshall University at 6 p.m. at “The Rock.” 

The theme for this year’s homecoming is “Forever Gold,” and Bradley says there’s an indescribable feeling in the air signaling that it’s a special time to be a part of the University.

“I love getting to see students celebrate Southern Miss, compete throughout the week in float decorations and other events, seeing alumni return to visit campus and spend Saturday night cheering on the Golden Eagles,” Bradley said.

Float decorating is a standard college homecoming event across the country, but one popular tradition at USM gave Bradley pause when she first witnessed it – “Fountain Sit” during which student groups compete to see which one can stand to sit the longest in the cold water of the fountain adjacent to The Hub, located near the center of the Hattiesburg campus.

Bradley remembers when, as a freshman, she first witnessed the event. She doubted the sanity of her fellow students. “I thought the people inside the fountain were all crazy, but as I kept watching, I realized how much fun they were having, which just made me smile,” she said.

Eagle alums flock together at homecoming, reconnect and reminisce

Professor of history Dr. Andrew Wiest, a USM graduate and member of the University’s Alumni Hall of Fame, recalls homecoming of 1981 and the Golden Eagles’ 52-9 trouncing of the University of Texas-Arlington at “The Rock” when quarterback Reggie Collier rushed for two 80-plus yard touchdowns against the Mavericks. The Golden Eagles followed that game with victories of over Mississippi State and Florida State, and a tie with Alabama. “Collier ran wild and the ‘Nasty Bunch’ played some tough defense,” Wiest said in recalling one of the best seasons of USM football occurring while he was a student.

Wiest served as grand marshal for last year’s homecoming parade. This year he’ll bring his musical talents to campus for homecoming while performing on drums with the local band “The Mississippi Tornadoes” at the Honors College tailgate from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in front of the Honor House. “There’s always such a great crowd of students for homecoming tailgating, and it’s going to be a lot of fun playing for them,” he said.

USM Greek Life Coordinator Dr. Johnell Goins, advisor to USM’s National Pan Hellenic Council, says each year her students host the Homecoming Step Show as part of the lineup of events taking place throughout the week. “It's always a really great competition; alums come back, and parents come to the University to see their kids perform,” said Goins, who earned her Ed.D. from USM in 2014. “The atmosphere is electric; there's nothing like homecoming at Southern Miss.” 

Alumnus Michael Marks likes Southern Miss homecoming for the opportunity to see old friends, renew distant acquaintances and “convince each other we’re not old.”

“We beam with pride about the accomplishments of this generation of Golden Eagles,” said Marks, marketing and public relations coordinator for Forrest General Hospital. “The addition of the Alumni Association’s African-American Sunday Morning Brunch has given me an additional avenue to catch up with fraternity brothers, old roommates and band (Pride of Mississippi) faithful.”

Like Marks, alumna Missy Warren McGee of Hattiesburg says USM’s homecoming means a time for her to visit with former classmates and reconnect with a place that holds many wonderful memories.

“It’s always fun to reminisce with friends and laugh at old stories of our days as students at Southern Miss,” she said. “I'm also going to enjoy seeing it through the eyes of my son, who is celebrating his first homecoming as a student at the University.”

For more information about homecoming 2016 at Southern Miss, visit https://www.usm.edu/homecoming.