Alumni brave weather

Despite being plagued with rain and a loss to the Ottawa Gee Gees, Wilfrid Laurier University’s 2009 homecoming weekend ran successfully from October 2-4, with high numbers in attendance and participation for each event.

“All I’ve got back so far is great feedback,” said associate director of alumni relations Roly Webster.

“The participation overall would compete with what we had last year, which was probably our biggest year. The only difference would be the number of fans at the football game … but there are a couple of variables there, I mean we’re on national TV this year and we weren’t last year, the weather was beautiful last year and not so beautiful this year, and students have to pay now.”

Homecoming festivities began on Friday with the 12th Annual Dean’s Alumni Golf Classic, which was held at the Rebel Creek Golf Club.

The event was sold out, but unfortunately rain forced golfers indoors after only nine holes.

The Athletic Hall of Fame dinner was also hosted Friday night, and over 120 alumni gathered as Alison Goodman, James Hitchen, Cathy Ingalls, Justin Shakell and Kate Jackson were inducted as athletes as well as the 1998-99 women’s hockey team, while Bill Ballard (who prompted the construction of the Athletic Complex as WLUSU president in 1969, and was the lead donor for the Alumni Field and Stadium Renovations), who was inducted in the builder category.

Saturday saw between 350 and 400 people attend a pancake breakfast on campus before heading to University Stadium to cheer on the Hawks as they faced Ottawa.

Just over 7,600 people were in attendance at the game, although heavy rain and thunder just before halftime led to significantly fewer fans in the second half of the game.

Russell Peters also returned to Laurier’s homecoming this year; a sold-out crowd of 6,115 attended his performance on Saturday night.

The weekend closed on Sunday with the second annual Laurier Loop, a run in which alumni can participate to raise money for the Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research & Rehabilitation Centre.

This year attendance increased by almost 100 participants as 497 people ran, raising $6,000, which was then matched by Laurier alumnus Ian McLean for a total of $12,000 to be donated to the center.

This year Laurier also hosted eight class reunions, which is more than has been held in past years.

Webster explains that Laurier proudly hosts one of the largest and best-attended homecoming programs in Canada, and that they will continue to look for ways to grow, improve and involve the whole Laurier community.

“To be able to do that with such a small school I think is a testament to the passion our grads have to come back,” said Webster.

“And we hope that we’ll add to the program, not just at homecoming but throughout the year … we want to really try and build towards Laurier’s centennial in 2011. “

The goal now is to find more ways to involve students with the homecoming experience, and Webster explains that they are hoping to work with the students’ union to add components to next year’s agenda, such as a concert or a pep rally, that will appeal to the student demographic.