A host of alumni and friends returned to the Bluefield College campus to celebrate Homecoming 2011, October 13-16, featuring for the first time in 70 years a Homecoming football game, along with the presentation of alumni awards, the honoring of BC Golden Graduates, and the crowning of the 2011 Homecoming Queen and King.
The last time Bluefield College played a Homecoming football game was November 1941, just weeks before the start of World War II. Since most of the men from BC were off fighting in the war, there were not enough players to field a football squad in the fall of 1942, and consequently the school scrapped the program, until now.
This fall, Ram football players returned to the gridiron to revive the sport with an exhibition season that will prepare the school for full intercollegiate action in the fall of 2012. This year’s exhibition season included an intra-squad blue-white scrimmage for Homecoming 2011.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said head football coach Mike Gravier. “It’s an exciting time for us. I know the kids were jacked up and ready to play. We have a long way to go, but it’s just fun to finally get out here and play.”
The football experience also featured tailgating at Mitchell Stadium. Alumni and friends, including 50 prospective football players for next year on campus for an open house, enjoyed steaks, barbecue and burgers on the grill, as well as a corn-hole tournament with prizes and awards. Other sports action during the weekend included two women’s volleyball matches against Bryan College and Reinhardt University and men’s and women’s soccer games against Tennessee Temple University.
Based on the theme, “Now and Then,” the 2011 Homecoming schedule also included the presentation of alumni awards and the honoring of BC Golden Graduates. Julie Hull Johnson (’88), chair of the BC Board of Trustees and vice president and senior trust officer for First Century Bank, was named Alumna of the Year. Ron Hall (’81), president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Baptist Foundation, won the Primitivo Delgado Christian Service Award. Brandy Campbell (’02), a feature writer for Compassion International, received a Distinguished Young Alumna honor, and longtime BC staff members Chris and Dee Shoemaker earned Honorary Alumni awards.
Three former student-athletes were also honored with induction into BC’s Sports Hall of Fame. Accepted into the hallowed hall this fall: former football player Richard “Dick” Bogdan (’42), award-winning weightlifter Paul Sutphin (’77), and former basketball player Frank Short (’78).
Members of the class of 1961 were inducted into BC’s Golden Graduates Society. Created in 2009 to honor and preserve the legacy of alumni from the Golden Anniversary era and beyond, the Society recognized this year (from the class of 1961) Claire Thurman Booth, Rebecca Tyree Bruce, Steve Dixon, Nancye Kinser Howell, Brenda Akers Hutzler, Ann Shelton Lovingood, Johnsie Wright Morgan, (from the class of 1955) Gilbert Henshaw, Richard Smith, and (from the class of 1953) Violet Meade.
Students presented their own awards with the crowning of the 2011 Homecoming Court, including Homecoming Queen to senior Celia Jones and Homecoming King to senior Ethan Lewis. Cheznee Daily was named Junior Princess, Jahlisa Harvey Sophomore Princess, and Lacey Atwood Freshman Princess.
Students also celebrated Homecoming with a hip-hop, pop rock and R&B concert, featuring contemporary Christian artists Group 1 Crew, Shonlock, Rapture Ruckus, and Rachael Lampa.
Alumni also took part in two separate entertaining events to support the BC Fund for Scholarships, including a golf tournament at Fincastle Country Club and a live scholarship auction. Together the events earned more than $5,000 for student scholarships.
The four-day reunion weekend also included three separate performances of “Quilters,” a BC Theatre production about life on the American frontier; a concert by the Virginia Baptist Women’s Chorale; and a campus community worship service, featuring music from BC student voice ensembles.