Assistant professor Bryan Carter sits down with PhD candidate Dee Hill Zuganelli for a
The Faces behind Homecoming
The 13-member Bobcats Senior Honorary club plans numerous Homecoming events, among many, many other things.
What were The University of Arizona’s original school colors?
In what year was the UA’s first Homecoming held at Arizona Stadium?
What was the name of the UA’s first live mascot?
Members of the UA’s Bobcats Senior Honorary club – the brains and brawn behind a tremendous number of Homecoming events – have answers to those trivia questions.
But the group’s Wildcat spirit does not stop there. Consider students in the 13-member group purveyors of University tradition.
Founded in 1922, the Bobcats abide by a creed that reads: “An open, frank, sincere and unbiased group that knows no party lines, harbors no petty jealousies and idolizes the person who has the welfare of The University of Arizona at heart.”
The group, which lives for the red and blue, does Homecoming heavy lifting.
Bobcats members are responsible for planning, coordinating, getting donations and sponsorships for the three-day event. They also are responsible for the bonfire pep rally kickoff event, the Homecoming Parade and for interviewing candidates for Homecoming royalty.
Yes – all that while studying full time, often keeping at least a 3.0 grade-point average and, in many cases, serving as president and members of numerous other student organizations.
“These kids are the cream of the crop,” said Chrystean Page, the UA Alumni Association’s assistant director for student relations and career services. Students must apply and interview to become members.
During the spring, Bobcats are responsible for planning the “Evening of Excellence,” an awards ceremony for undergraduate students. But Homecoming events take up the bulk of their time during the fall.
“Traditionally, Homecoming is for people to come back home to the school,” Page said. “The role of the Bobcats is to make sure current UA students get a piece of what Homecoming is and that they also get a piece of history.”
The student group falls under the Alumni Association and is comprised of undergraduate seniors "who excel on campus and in the community,” said Devin Sreecharana, Bobcats president. Even though the students already have strong commitments on and off campus, being part of the Bobcats carries tremendous obligations.
Page, who also serves as the Bobcats adviser, said, “To actually see how hard they work makes you really want to enjoy the Homecoming festivities.”
The hard work is rightfully required, Sreecharana said.
“Some people feel that Homecoming is one of the best events on campus because everyone on campus can take part in it,” he added. “Our main mission is to make sure the traditions of the University never change.”
Bobcats began meeting weekly in August to set up timelines and brainstorm for mall events.
Rachel Kelly, who participated in the Bobcats’ pie-eating contest Wednesday afternoon, said Homecoming is all about reconnecting.
“It’s a time when alumni come back and people can celebrate with the students who are here. It’s all about tradition,” said Kelly, a pre-business sophomore and Chi Omega sorority member.
For example, the pie-eating contest is a new feature in the Club Olympics, a traditional competition between organizations and student atheletic groups held the week prior to the Homecoming Parade and game.
“Homecoming stirs up the morale and gets people excited for Saturday,” Kelly added, noting that she will be attending for the second time Saturday’s Homecoming, the day the Wildcats’ play against University of California, Los Angeles.
The days leading up to the game build momentum, said Jenna Piccolo, another Bobcats member.
“Each day, it gets a little more intense,” Piccolo said.
“It’s also a time to bring together those students who aren’t connected to a Greek organization in particular, or students who wouldn’t necessarily participate in these sorts of events,” she said. “We hope people will come to Homecoming and, if not, at least watch the game.”
And, by the way, answers to the above questions are:
- Sage green and silver were the UA’s original colors. Today, the University’s official colors are cardinal red and navy blue.
- The UA’s first Homecoming was held in 1914, but the first at Arizona Stadium was in 1929.
- Rufus Arizona was the name of the UA’s first live mascot, which arrived on campus in 1915. The desert bobcat was named after Rufus Bernard von Kleinsmid, the UA’s seventh president, and had several successors. The costumed Wilbur Wildcat made his debut in 1959.