Albion Scores Virtual Victory with Homecoming 2020

November 5, 2020 | By Jake Weber

No doubt about it, Homecoming 2020 was different—but on the growing list of virtual events that turn out to be pretty enjoyable, it was a clear success.

“Homecoming Royal Britons: Zahra Ahmed, Lexie Seidel, Hannah GracinHomecoming 2020 Royal Britons (left to right): Zahra Ahmed, ’22, Lexie Seidel, ’21, and Hannah Gracin, ’21.

Well over 300 participants registered for this year’s combined Homecoming/Family Day/reunion events, held October 14-18. And while the additional nonregistered participants didn’t bring the numbers up to the usual in-person turnout, "we had the opportunity to provide experiences that no one would have had if it were just cancelled," said Director of College Events Emma Chervinsky Reynolds. "Participants tuned in from around the country and even the world to meet with current students, classmates, teammates and professors. Similar to doing an on-campus event, but much more accessible and safe!"

Homecoming included virtual versions of many traditional events: introduction of the Homecoming court, an Athletic Hall of Fame-focused gathering, Greek open houses and, of course, class reunions. The online format also meant that plans weren’t as limited by weather, running into old friends, or the inability to be in two places at the same time. Other virtual events included a "tailgate," a guided tour through the Whitehouse Nature Center, a conversation with new President Mathew Johnson, and a special concert in Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium by Music Department faculty David Abbott (on piano) and Anna Khalikova (on violin).

“The virtual format actually opened up opportunities to meet students and alumni I might not have otherwise. I enjoyed interacting with current students and alumni from across the decades as I popped into several of the open houses,” said Brian Longheier, ’00. He further noted that his reunion class gathering, though small, was a hit. “We heard about some of the great philanthropic work some of our classmates have been up to. I was pleased that more than 20 classmates turned out and at least half of us hung on for three hours sharing fun memories from our years on campus.”

Virtual tailgate participantsBrits get together for a virtual tailgate.“I truly enjoyed participating in the Black Alumni Chapter meeting,” said Myra Burton, ’82, reflecting the spirit of the event. “It was good seeing people and I hope we can continue to meet. Overall, it was a great time.”

“I think at Homecoming, we all tend to meet up with our own classmates and not necessarily with people of other years,” said Lisa Wilson Harris, ’89. Although Lisa and her husband, Tony Harris, ’87, spent a “mini-Homecoming” weekend with Jimmy, ’88, and Kelly Foster Lever, ’90, the foursome also spent plenty of time in the virtual gatherings. “Online, I met friends in Flint and other alumni I might not have connected with on campus, and that was nice.”

“It was great to get caught up with people we hadn’t seen in 45 years,” said Linda Vivian Pulling, ’75, who attended the Milestone Reunion gathering with her husband Gary, ’70. She also made an unexpected connection with attendee Gary Robertson, ’60. “I couldn’t figure out why his name sounded familiar until I found out he was from Grand Haven,” said Linda, who had never before realized that her father’s former tennis partner was an Albion alum. “That was really fun,” she added. “It really is a small world when you’re an Albion alum.”