Homecoming is getting a bit of a makeover this year, and the hallways are abuzz with talks about the changes. The varsity football program will have its annual homecoming game on Friday, instead of its traditional Saturday timeslot. As if that were not enough, the game will be one for the history books, as it will be the first time a homecoming football game is played under the lights when the team takes the field against Nansemond-Suffolk Academy at Wynne-Darden Stadium.
Lower School students Margaret Poston ’28 and Alex Marino ’28 plan to attend Friday night’s festivities.
“Our Girl Scout troop is going to the tailgate. We can earn the Snack and Community badges if we go,” said Margaret. “We also get to be in the spirit parade!”
Leah Gregoire ’28 is also thrilled at the idea of participating in the pre-show spirit parade with her peers, but she is most looking forward to scanning the field for a member of the football team: her brother, John Gregoire ’20. “I’m excited to watch my brother play under the lights!” she said.
Enthusiasm over the homecoming celebrations extended beyond the Lower School, as students in the Middle and Upper School were sharing their homecoming plans.
“I’m excited to watch NA football...so much of the school is going to be at the game,” said Foster Kimple ’22. He is not the only one looking forward to the community aspect of the game. Brooke Thornton ’22 is ready to see everyone participating in the “Orange Out” and sporting the orange shirts the bookstore debuted earlier this week.
Leading up to the homecoming activities, Upper School students participated in spirit week with themed dress-down days. Students headed off to class in their pajamas, and ate lunch in the refectory while decked out in red, white, and blue for USA Day.
While taking a break in the senior lounge between classes, seniors Elle Lambert, Kevin Smedley, Abigail McCammon, Paul Southern, Marissa Mejia, and Alex Nevarez expressed interest in attending Friday night’s football game, while also exchanging in a little pep rally trash talk.
“I can actually go to the game this year!” said Elle. “I’ve never been to a homecoming football game, because we always had a cross country meet. We should have homecoming on a Friday every year.”
When the conversation turned to the pep rally, Abigail was quick to add her thoughts on which team would end up victorious in the spirit competition. “Tennis is going to throw down!” she said. Alex disagreed, noting, “Cross country is going to win.”
Pep rally participants are not the only ones preparing for a big competition this week. The football team has been busy practicing and preparing for the new, homecoming-under-the-lights format.
“The team is really excited - we are going to do everything we can to go 1-0 this week,” said head football coach Steve Monninger. “There are some added layers to this week’s game. Of course; it’s extra exciting because of the activities going on with homecoming. It’s going to be a real showdown between the two teams out on the field, since NSA also has a great team this year.
It’s easy to lose focus before a big game when there are so many festivities leading up to kickoff. To prevent the players from caving to any distractions, Coach Monninger is employing his quiet time tactics. He plans to dedicate five minutes of quiet time to give his players time to reflect and “get your mind right” before they take the field.
Coach Monninger sees the shift of homecoming moving from a Saturday to a Friday as a positive change. “Homecoming in general is as much a community event as anything else,” he said. “It is easier for people to make it to a Friday night game, so hopefully this is something we continue to do from here on out.”