“Once an Owl, always an Owl.” That seemed to be the motto for several Keene State College Alumni who gathered at the campus last weekend for the 2013 Homecoming.
Wearing KSC sweatshirts, KSC hats, KSC tees and name tags with their graduation year, the Owls came home to the beauty of the New England fall, the sweet smell of churros and apple cider and the excitement of college sports.
Rain and wind set the tone of this year’s Homecoming. However, the weather was not enough to soak the enthusiasm of those who still feel they are owls at heart. Just like the clouds and rain, laughs and smiles took over the campus. “I’m so happy to be here. I love Keene, I would still live here if I could,” said Amie Vaughn, class of ‘93.
Many of the attendees travelled from different states to come to KSC. Leslie Rinquette, class of ‘86, drove two hours from Massachusetts. Surrounded by old friends and young faces that are now part of the KSC family, Rinquette said she has come to Homecoming for the past three years. “It is getting better every year, ” Rinquette stated.
In the case of Rinquette, the Owl spirit has been passed to younger generations. “My son goes here and my daughter is considering coming too. I couldn’t be happier. Keene State is just such a beautiful New England college,” Rinquetti said.
Whether it was at the KSC Homecoming Parade, at the Comedy Show held in the Night Owl Cafe or at the multiple sporting events that took place on campus, the alumni certainly made it clear that their love for KSC remains as strong as it was the day the walked down Appian Way in cap and gown.
“I liked Keene so much when I was a student that I stayed here,” said Jake Cahoon, Class of ‘90, who currently lives in Keene. Cahoon went on, “My time in KSC was a wonderful experience, the school prepared me well for the work environment. I still have really good friends from that time.” Saturday and Sunday were not sunny nor bright. Yet, many KSC alumni wore smiles and short pants either to cheer for the young owl athletes that competed or to try and take on them in an Owl versus Owl battle on the field.
Athletics were certainly a big part of the weekend. Over 60 alumni showed they not only clean up well, but keep fit after college as they faced young Keene-Staters in men’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s rugby games.
“The alumni games are big events, a lot of us come to play and also many people come to watch it,” said Erich Belowski, class of ‘96 who played rugby for KSC.
Belowski referred to the rugby alumni as “a great family.” “I played here when Coach Bunck played,” said Belowski. In fact, Belowski met his wife Rikki through the rugby alumni.
“We didn’t know each other when we were students here, but we both played rugby for the school so we had mutual friends,” Rikki Belowski said.
Also, as alumni gathered at the fields with posters just as if they were at the Gillette Stadium or Fenway Park, KSC teams showed their rivals what the Owls are made of.
Saturday morning, the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team showed how to run. Later, the Women’s Field Hockey team earned their tenth victory of the season over Western Connecticut State in a Little East Conference game. The Women’s Soccer team walked out with victory in the LEC as well. The girls demolished Rhode Island College five to nothing. The Men’s Rugby team fell short against Plymouth State University.
In every game, a crowd of alumni showed up to shout out for the athletes–an ultimate example of teamwork: Owls on field, Owls in the stairs. A double dose of Owl passion; success for KSC.
To celebrate the victories and an evening of remembrance, a show of fireworks took place in the athletic complex Saturday evening. The ceremony was a colorful and bright ending to a day of excitement and sharing.
In between games and parades, gathered in a welcome tent at the Owl’s Complex, alumni and current students and college staff shared thoughts about how KSC has changed over the years.
“The campus is a hundred times nicer that it was in my time. It is great that Appian way is a pedestrian street now,” said Leslie Rinquette. “The campus now offers a lot of great opportunities and it looks gorgeous,” stated Rikki Belowski.
For KSC President Anne Huot, Homecoming was an opportunity “to meet people that are part of the KSC family and welcome them back home.” Dr. Huot said, “It has been a great day. There is a very good school spirit going on.”
Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Bethany-Laura Morin said this year’s Homecoming created a great atmosphere on campus. “People were energetic and excited. It was a great weekend overall,” Morin stated.
Despite the rain, for KSC Alumni the sun still shines over Keene State College.
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at email@example.com