This week marks the 72nd annual homecoming celebration at Youngstown State University.
After YSU’s first homecoming queen was crowned in 1938, the university has upheld the tradition each year, except from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II.
Carrie Anderson, coordinator of programs and marketing at YSU, said homecoming started as a way to get alumni to revisit their alma mater.
“The tradition of homecoming quickly spread among universities, then spread to high schools,” said Travis Battiest, a graduate student who serves on the homecoming committee. “It gives alumni a chance to come back to where they built their life.”
This year’s homecoming theme, “We Will Rock You,” was chosen for its versatility, Battiest said.
“It goes back to Elvis Presley to modern rock,” Battiest said. “We try to span generations if possible.”
This year, seven couples were chosen to serve on the university’s homecoming court. Usually, only five couples are selected, but the court was expanded this year due to tied votes, Anderson said.
“It really goes to voting and what the students decide,” she said.
Anderson said 904 students voted this year — 71 more than last year.
“I feel as a group we were excited for the voter turnout,” Anderson said.
As a student at YSU, Anderson served on the homecoming committee; she said she’s excited to advise this year’s homecoming committee and see how the events pan out.
She said the court is made up of students who have devoted much of their college career to bettering the university.
“To us, that is our student leadership,” Anderson said.
Jill Grove, a homecoming queen nominee, said she was honored when she heard of her nomination.
Grove was nominated by the Student Organization for Respiratory Care; she is a cheerleader and a sister of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
If Grove is selected as this year’s homecoming queen, she’ll use the remainder of her college career to tell students how important it is to get involved in their communities, she said.
“Being on the homecoming court for me is about making connections, promoting organizations and learning as well as reaching out,” Grove said.
Grove said she plans to continue the tradition by returning to YSU for homecoming after she graduates.
“My friends and I were talking about how much fun it will be someday to be alumni,” she said. “It would be sad because we’d be back as alumni and not as students, but it’ll be fun to come back.”
Kayla Boye, a fellow homecoming queen nominee, was nominated by the University Scholars program.
“Being nominated for homecoming court has made my senior year very special,” Boye said. “I am honored to represent YSU and the student body.”
Boye said that being a part of YSU’s homecoming court is more than just a popularity contest.
“Maybe that’s what it means at a high school level. Now, you’re nominated because you’re a good representation of the university,” Boye said. “That matters more at the collegiate level.”
Boye is also involved with YSU’s theater and dance productions, and she’s a peer tutor at the YSU Writing Center.
Tyterion Wright, a homecoming king nominee, said he is happy to represent his fraternity, Sigma Tau Gamma. In his spare time, Wright visits middle and high schools to encourage students to get involved in their community.
“Being nominated is awesome; I really appreciate it,” Wright said. “I hope I can make [Sigma Tau Gamma] proud by bringing home the crown.”