Swept floors, magazines and booklets spread out nicely on coffee tables and polished wooden staircases guests can see their reflections in — the Alumni Center is typically a well-kept building, save for one room on the first floor where Homecoming plans are well underway.
Winter coats and vests are sprawled across chairs, showing that cooler weather is here. Envelopes, paper clips and various papers cover a table, a tell-tale sign that crunch time for the Homecoming co-directors is here as well.
Homecoming co-directors Lauren Sincebaugh, senior in hospitality management, and Chandra Bolin, senior in marketing, are reviewing plans set to take place this week, counting envelopes to make sure they’re all accounted for and clicking away on their laptops. Multitasking at its finest.
“We started planning back in January,” Bolin said. “That’s when committee is whole. The spring’s a lot less [of a time commitment]; we probably meet about three to five hours a week depending on the week, and then now we’re here almost every day meeting with everyone.”
"Cy’s the Limit" is the Homecoming 2019 theme, and is meant to be interpreted many different ways.
Determining the theme for Homecoming is a multi-step process and involves multiple groups of people. Various rounds of voting and discussion occur between everyone from Student Alumni Leadership Council committees to the Homecoming committee members.
In the end, proposed graphics can ultimately determine the theme. Designers have to be wary of potential issues that could arise with the design, such as trademark rules.
"Cy’s the Limit" is a theme idea that’s been circulating for a while, and after seeing potential designs, committees all across the board felt it was the right choice for the theme this year.
“I think we got really into it when we got the idea that we could put the campanile on the logo, because we think it really showcased Iowa State,’’ Sincebaugh said.
Appealing graphic designs, multi-faceted interpretations and the creativity within the theme make it a solid choice for the week.
“We try to make the theme a broad enough thing so that people can do stuff within,” Bolin said. “For Yell Like Hell and the displays, we need them to come up with their own ideas.”
Yell Like Hell is an annual tradition taking place during Homecoming Week. Greek community chapters form groups to create and perform skits incorporating common aspects of Iowa State while also conveying the theme.
The most unique factor of Yell Like Hell that tends to entertain crowds is how the performers wear minimal clothing and cover their bodies with paint, either donning red and yellow or something related to the skit’s theme.
“My first year I was a member of Yell Like Hell, and our team won Yell Like Hell,” said Jessica Bigelow, special events co-director and senior in accounting. “So we got painted, and we got painted again, and I think by winning Yell Like Hell and also the aspect of seeing everything that goes into putting on Homecoming from both sides really inspired me to be more involved with it.”
Asking their favorite activity or event that occurs during Homecoming Week is akin to asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Bolin and Sincebaugh were stumped, but ultimately agreed each event has its own aspects making it fun and enjoyable for many.
However, Bigelow had no problem choosing an event that has stood out throughout her time at Iowa State.
“I would probably say my favorite thing would be Yell Like Hell, because that’s so specific to Iowa State,” Bigelow said. “No other school does Yell Like Hell.”
This past weekend, the Homecoming Parade, Yell Like Hell first cuts, Painting Victory Lane and the Blue Sky 5k Run were all hosted in Ames.
There are multiple Homecoming events throughout the week. Food on Campus, Yell Like Hell and the Tournaments are all events open to students every day. This weekend, the anticipated Homecoming game against Oklahoma State will kick off at 2:30 p.m. at Jack Trice.
Several reunions are taking place at the Alumni Center as well, bringing back alumni involved in band and choir during their time at Iowa State.
While the pair of Homecoming co-directors share the same position in their final years as students, their journey to getting here couldn’t have been any more different.
“I think when I was a freshman I only really had the impression of [Homecoming] through my sorority, but a couple of my friends and my cousins were on Homecoming Central, so I had a different perspective of it,” Sincebaugh said. “They were the ones who encouraged me to apply [for a committee position] when I was a freshman. I thought it was a lot of fun, and I liked seeing everyone get together and celebrate traditions. And then that’s what made me want to apply for it. I don’t think I ever would’ve pictured myself here, but I definitely knew as a freshman that I wanted to get more involved than just through my own chapter.”
For Bolin, not being involved or affiliated with the greek community on campus gave her the impression a position on a Homecoming committee was out of the question.
“My freshman year, I thought that all the Homecoming activities were just for greek students because I’m not and I feel like that’s a lot of what you see,” Bolin said. “I was interested to see how the whole student population could do them. So then last year once I found out about applying to be on the committee — and I just love planning events and stuff like that, so I gave it a go — and I didn’t really think that after one year I would be a director, but it’s been fun.”
The co-directors have set a goal of trying to bridge the gap between non-greek and Greek students as well as inform students that Homecoming is a time for everyone and not just those within the greek community.
Food on Campus, Tournaments as well as the Homecoming Parade and the Blue Sky 5k are only a few examples of events that are open to the entire student population.
“We always try to advertise [the events], but the struggle is getting people to understand, or participate in it, because there’s so many different things for non-greek students, but it just always seems to get lost in how big the greek events get,” Sincebaugh said.
Bolin and Sincebaugh also differ in leadership styles, creating a balance that makes every event run smoothly.
“I like getting nervous the day of, before the event, and then when things go wrong; it sounds weird, but it’s one of my favorite things, because I like thinking on your feet and continuing to run the event,” Sincebaugh said.
The committees don't anticipate problems before or during an event, but Sincebaugh and Bolin have a relationship and dynamic that ensures when problems do arise, they’re handled in a way that nobody even realizes there was a problem to begin with.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the type of person who likes to have problems come up,” Bolin said. “I’m always trying to be the one that’s like, ‘Did we communicate this?,’ I’m always trying to be one step ahead. Leading up to it, you’re just ready for all the events to come, and you’re anxious and hoping everything runs smoothly. Then during the event you’re so focused as to what’s going on that you have no time to process, it’s just go, go, go, then afterwards you’re like ‘Holy cow, that was a lot of stuff at once’.”
There are 29 committee members underneath Sincebaugh and Bolin, meaning effective communication is a key factor in checking items off the list and successfully preparing everything for the week ahead.
The co-directors shared one of the most exciting aspects of planning is getting items approved, whether it be a minor aspect such as the approval for the Gator carts that will help transport items to and from events, or approval for large events, such as the Blue Sky 5k Run.
“There’s constantly things that are making it more and more exciting, even this week," Bolin said. "Our Gators just came today. Stuff like that, little by little, it just keeps getting more and more exciting."
Over the course of the spring semester and summer break, committee members work toward getting various things approved as part of the many things they’re working to change and add on to enhance the Homecoming experience for everyone.
“It’s super exciting having a new committee, and the whole spring semester everyone’s planning what they want to change and stuff like that — all of the exciting ‘what if’s,’” Bolin said.
Committee members are expected to lead a team of individuals working underneath them, also known as Cy Squad members, as well as report to the co-directors with approved plans, new ideas and project progress.
“I wanted to be involved in something that everyone on campus could be involved in,” Bigelow said. “I think when you look back on your college experience, being able to say you planned an event for the whole university is super cool to say.”
Bigelow and her co-director are in charge of a committee of Cy Squad members, who assist them with planning the pep rally at the end of the week. The pep rally includes the final round of Yell Like Hell, CyFactor award winners, the award ceremony for Cardinal Court and appearances by student athletes and coaches.
“We have organizations like Dance Marathon, ISU Blood Drive, we have the Sparkle Squad coming in and then the marching band and spirit squad take us into Wendy Wintersteen and then we go into Yell Like Hell, Cyclone Sweethearts and stuff like that,” Bigelow said.
The Homecoming Pep Rally is set for 4 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Alumni Center.
Bolin and Sincebaugh were stumped yet again when asked to summarize their Homecoming experience with one word, but Sincebaugh settled on the word "rewarding."
“It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, like not just to see all of the events come together but to see all of the people become friends, grow as leaders and see the changes in themselves,” Sincebaugh said. “Especially this upcoming week, it’ll be the most rewarding, to see how excited they are. It’s just really rewarding to see all of it happen.”
Sincebaugh admits being involved with Homecoming has helped her break out of her shell ever since joining.
Bolin chose the word "exciting" and said she enjoys the feelings that are associated with that emotion.
“It’s a lot of events in a short period of time, but you get this adrenaline rush from going, going, going, so that was one of my favorite things that made me want to do it and do more,” Bolin said.
For Bigelow, Homecoming has been nothing but memorable.
“Through Homecoming I’ve created lots of memories relating to doing the 5k and running with some of my sorority sisters, [and from] getting painted and being on stage to [helping] plan it,” Bigelow said. “I’ve made lots of friends in Homecoming, and I think overall the memories I’ve made in Homecoming will always be with me, and when I come back as an alumni I’ll remember all of these memories.”
While the pair of Homecoming co-directors differ in leadership styles, journeys to the positions they hold today and how they’ll remember their Homecoming experience, they agree they want every student, faculty, alumni, community member and Cyclone fan to have fond memories of Homecoming Week.
“I think we just hope that everyone can walk away with positive memories of Homecoming and say that it was a part of their Iowa State experience, whether they’re alumni, students or just fans of Iowa State in general,” Sincebaugh said.