The history of homecoming

David Lane, news editor

Since its conception, Homecoming traditions around the United States have been an important staple of high school and college culture.
While there is no definitive answer about where homecoming came from, three schools – Baylor University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Illinois – all claim to have celebrated the first homecoming in 1910.
Baylor University has the oldest tradition out of any of the schools who claimed to have started the tradition, however, they refer to their festivities as “Good Will Week,” not homecoming.
This tradition was normally held near Thanksgiving, rather than at the beginning of the year and included a program of class reunions, speeches and concerts, as well as a formal dance, parade and football game.
The University of Illinois originally designated October 14th as the official day of homecoming in 1910. Although originally an experiment of the college’s council of administration, homecoming was an overwhelming success, leading the school to hold the event every year since 1911. So far, the college only missed one year, 1918, due to the influenza pandemic, and has held it every year since.
While the prior two schools have claimed the title of “inventor of homecoming,” the University of Missouri is credited by the NCAA, as well as Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit as the originator of homecoming. Their tradition began in 1911 after their athletic director, Chester Brewer, asked students to help launch the new location of their football field by “coming home” to attend the annual game against the University of Kansas.
While these traditions from over a century ago still find their way into homecomings today, Cactus Shadows has also created many of its own traditions over the years.
“Since coming to Cactus Shadows, I have seen the events continue to grow and evolve with our changing student population. Student Council does a wonderful time talking to the student population and creating a Homecoming each and every year that is unique to our student population. We no longer do the parade in downtown Cave Creek or the music night at Dairy Queen. These events were becoming more and more challenging as our town of Cave Creek is flourishing and growing,” said Tandehl Collentine, the athletic director at Cactus Shadows.
Like years prior, the school will have a spirit week to rally school spirit leading up to the homecoming game, as well as a dance the following Saturday. A pep rally with both the pom and cheer teams will also be held before the game
“I’m excited to just have a real homecoming and a spirit week leading up to it, and a pep rally because we didn’t have any of that last year because of COVID,” said Eliya Rogoff, a member of the cheer team.
Cactus Shadows did not hold a homecoming dance last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.. However, because vaccinations among students and staff have increased and event restrictions have relaxed, the tradition will resume.
“I’m excited that this is my first homecoming and I feel like it’s just an important part of the traditional high school experience that only we get to have.” said Benjamin Gilbert, a freshman experiencing homecoming for the first time.