Alumni, parents key to Homecoming experience

Homecoming brings fans, students and alumni together for camaraderie, games and tailgating before the big football game.

Homecoming brings fans, students and alumni together for camaraderie, games and tailgating before the big football game.

Homecoming is one of the most special days of the year for Troy University, partly because it represents a coming together of students, faculty and staff with alumni and family members, some of whom rarely get the chance to visit the Troy Campus.

And for those like alumnus Thomas Clark, homecoming is a chance to reflect on the growth the campus has seen in the decades since he first enrolled.

“When I first came to TROY, there wasn’t very much to it,” said Clark, who attended the University from 1981 to 1985 and was part of the 1984 national championship-winning Trojan football team. “But now, just looking at how it’s drastically improved, I’m just proud of the progression Troy University has made. I’m proud to come back and see all the things the students are able to experience now compared to the way we used to have it. But, you know, somebody’s got to set the foundation.”

Clark is part of the Trojan Tailgaters, and he was busy grilling before the Trojans’ 38-16 win over Georgia Southern. Still, he had time to reflect on what homecoming really means.

“It represents coming together, getting back with old friends, fellowship with one another and just enjoying one another’s company,” Clark said. “We reminisce about old times, just talking about what we used to do. We’re not quite as young as we once were, and we like to tell some tall tales every now and again.”

Homecoming also brings in family members and others who aren’t as familiar with campus life.

Mike Garris and his family drove nearly 500 miles from Sarasota, Fla., to watch the game with his son, a junior at TROY.

“This is our third year, and it seems like every year they add something new and improved, and it’s a big school with a small school atmosphere, which we love,” said Garris, who said he visits campus just four times per year. “We have some friends from Florida who came up with us, and they’re showing the campus to their son, who is a junior in high school. Everyone’s nice, everyone’s friendly and the barbecue’s good. That Trojan warrior spirit everyone talks about, this is the epitome of it right here.”

Clark said he enjoys seeing the work his generation put in paying off all these years later.

“We built that foundation, and it’s about being able to give back and contribute to Troy University so it can continue to grow, continue to get better,” he said. “And it’s gonna get better, for sure.”