Mountaineers Fill Homecoming Weekend with Western Pride

Western alumni, current students, faculty and the Gunnison community alike enjoyed a homecoming weekend filled with toasty fires, close competition and Mountaineer spirit.

Scenes from the parade

While the temperature rested in the low 40’s and dark clouds hung overhead, Western students, professors and alumni, as well as Gunnison locals, gathered on Main Street to witness the Western homecoming parade on Friday evening.

Cheers erupted as the Parade Marshall Gary Pierson, also known as the vice president of student affairs, led the procession on his bike. The 10-person homecoming court followed closely behind, each rocking their sashes.

The Western Cheerleading squad brought their Western spirit and performed a quick number on the corner of Main and Virginia as the pep band followed behind with a performance of their own, playing songs like “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Western clubs, including SheJumps and Newman Club, gave the event’s younger crowd what they wanted—tossing candy to children armed and ready with candy bags. The Anthropology Club even brought along two llamas.

Ahead of their games on Saturday, the Men and Women’s Rugby Teams showed plenty of energy, cheering along with the crowd. The Men and Women’s Basketball Teams elicited the most cheers from the crowd, as the players waved at local fans.

Members of the Multicultural Center offered up a contagious energy, dancing together down Main Street. Once they reached the corner of Main and Virginia, the group shot off confetti into the crisp fall air.

The Ebb and Flow Club closed the parade, dancing to upbeat techno sounds.

After the parade ended, friends gathered for pictures and kids began digging into their bags. Confetti littered Main Street and the Western flags hung high.

A reunion at renovated Quigley Hall

Quigley Hall’s glossy new tile floor shone under the feet of Western alumni Friday night as old friends chatted and admired the renovated art and music building.

The attendees enjoyed complimentary refreshments and admired the inaugural exhibit featured in the Quigley Gallery: “Dystopia,” created by Western alum Bryson Hsiang Darnel. The 2009 graduate had been preparing for the show since September of last year and said he was honored to be chosen as the first featured artist.

“I was very shocked when they asked me to do [the exhibit], but very honored,” Darnel said. “The new Quigley is great. The energy in this place is different, lighter. It feels more open for creativity.”

Class of 1984 graduate Shellee Lincoln took art classes during her time at Western. Lincoln said she was very impressed with the new facility and the Western campus.

“I’ve loved seeing how the campus has evolved,” Lincoln said. “It’s beautiful.” 

Read more about Quigley Hall’s grand opening 

Attendees mingled in the lobby and filtered in and out of the concert hall to enjoy the music of the Western Faculty Jazz Combo.

Scott Bird, a music major who graduated this past May said that while a small piece of him wishes he could have had the chance to perform on the new stage, he is honored to have been part of the renovation process and see the concert hall come to life. Bird served as an executive committee member for the Quigley renovation and was heavily involved in the project as a student.

“I’ve been a part of this process for the last three years and have been dreaming about it and it’s coming to fruition. Every time I look [at the concert hall] I want to cry,” Bird said.

The crowd began to disperse around 8:30 p.m., all preparing for the legendary lighting of the W. 

Lighting the W and Mountaineer Bowl bonfire

The lighting of the W is one of Western State Colorado University’s longest held traditions. For roughly eight decades, it has been as much of a community-building event as spectacle.

In preparation for the event, Western’s Mountain Rescue Team spent hours soaking cotton rags in jet fuel, spacing them around the W and making torches that would eventually be passed along the perimeter of the 25,560 square foot letter. Those who put in the work to make the lighting a reality gained a vantage point that few see. Better yet, they got to take part in a timeless tradition.

“There’s no other feeling in the world like grabbing a torch and lighting the W,” said sophomore Tanner Vann.

Although most people don’t get the same perspective as those who braved the flames on Tenderfoot Mountain, the pure anticipation of a mountainside about to catch fire captivated peoples’ attention toward the dark horizon.

Without forewarning, the W steadily and symmetrically ignited from the bottom up while a scene began to erupt across campus. Freshman, upperclassmen, and community members alike gathered around Mountaineer Bowl and the hillside above as cheers and “Olé” ensued from crowds that flooded from the dorms.

The fiery W served as a backdrop for a roaring bonfire above Mountaineer Bowl. There, students and community members warmed up, huddled together and roasted marshmallows.

“This really brings us together as a community,” said senior Kim Blunt, standing beside fellow senior Jonas Maag, who exclaimed, “The fire is so big I burnt my eyebrows!”

As both the fire in the sky and on the ground continued to burn brightly, Carolyn Crutchfield from the class of 1964 stood alongside the masses of college students with a friend. When asked how the tradition has changed since she attended Western, she answered with a youthful smile, “It’s just how it used to be.” 

Mountaineers on the field

Western went undefeated on Saturday, pulling out three wins against other schools—and one against alumni.

The Football team beat Colorado School of Mines (ranked No. 23) to improve to a 3-1 record. The Mountaineers won 45 to 31 in front of a spirited stadium.

The Women’s Volleyball team beat Regis University with a 3-0 sweep, marking the first win against Rangers volleyball in 15 years.

In club sports, the Women’s Rugby Team beat Colorado College 22-10 for the first conference game of the season, while the Men’s Rugby Team held off the alumni team for a win.

Mountaineers Athletics’ inaugural Homecoming 5K drew 40 participants. Sophomore wrestler Brandon Supernaw won the men’s group and junior basketball player Katelynn Martinez took home the win in the women’s group. 

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 10:00am