For our August Digital Storytellers prompt, we asked about your memories from Homecoming. Here’s a sampling of those responses. If you’d like to participate in our Digital Storyteller program (and earn MNU swag while doing so), you can sign up here. We’d love to have you!

Welcome home, Pioneers!
Homecoming Memories from Our Alums

By Sarah A. Moser

Do you have the MidAmerica Nazarene University Homecoming dates on your schedule? Back in the day, Mark Van Sickle (’07) sure did. “Homecoming was always circled on the calendar,” he says. “There was a full weekend of activities to look forward to!”

Van Sickle enjoyed the football game, Late Night at Cook Center to kick off the basketball season, and the Homecoming Banquet. “One year, we had a post-Homecoming bowling outing where we rocked the alley late into the night,” he fondly remembers. “Nowadays, the alumni events are a good time to catch up with old friends and acquaintances while exchanging college stories and maybe learning a thing or two about former Pioneers.”

For Jason Lovelace (‘97), pictured above with his wife Jihye, the thrill of Homecoming was all about football and family, including this gem: 

“It was 1994, my last year of eligibility in football. I hadn't been in uniform for the Pioneers since ’91 due to being in a car accident and needing two knee surgeries. My parents were coming to visit and l didn't know when I’d see them. As we came out of the field house and lined up, l saw Mom and Dad just as I’d stepped out the door. Mom said, with tears, "Oh, look, Ted! There he is, and he looks so good!" As l gave Mom a hug, Dad hit my pads, saying, "You look great, Son! Go get ’em!". We defeated Tabor pretty soundly, and l was able to play for part of the first half and all of the second half. I didn't make any spectacular plays, but what l remember is that Ma and Pa saw me play in my last Homecoming Game as an MNU Pioneer!”

His advice to today’s students is to attend as many Homecoming activities as possible: “Go have fun with your family and friends! If you can't go to the Homecoming Banquet, or even the game, still, get out of your dorm room and go to the events that are taking place,” he says. “Meet the alumni. Listen to their stories and their experiences. There are plenty of free events. That paper or project or assignment can wait. And if you’re going to be late in turning something on, tell your profs; they'll understand. You won’t ever regret getting involved in homecoming.”

Callie Frizzell (’19) took a break from line dancing to snap a photo in Fall 2019 with her suitemates (Maleah Chin, Rebecca Hopke, and Kendra Fulce) at the Annual Homecoming Hoedown.

Michelle Avins (’11): 
“Homecoming Week was always so much fun! Extra special events, a chance to get all dressed up, and the football game were my favorites. I vividly remember attending the Hoedown my junior year in Land Gymnasium, and line dancing so much my feet hurt! There was always a great atmosphere around campus that week, and I can't wait to be able to come back and enjoy it as an alum one year.”

Matthew Thompson (’97): 
“The 1996 Homecoming Banquet will forever be burned into my memory. My wife and I had recently become engaged and I was super excited to hear the speaker. He had been one of my professors during my days at another school (before I found the light and transferred to MNU) and was always hilarious in class. I talked him up to everyone and went on and on about just how funny he was and how much they would love the show. Then that dreadful night arrived. Never have I seen a more painful stage performance in my entire life. At one point the man pulled a rubber chicken out of a piano and started clucking at the audience. (And that was the crowning highlight of the show.) Thankfully my fiancé did not hold it against me and we have now been married for 25 years. (Although she still insists on controlling the TV remote.)”

Billie Taylor (’07) and Emily Taylor (O'Neal ’11) just before Homecoming 2007: “This photo was taken in the MNU Circle Drive minutes before successfully changing a flat tire on the highway on the way to the Homecoming Banquet in Paola, KS, without getting a bit of dirt on my suit!”

Todd Shipler (’96):
“As a manager for the football team, my experience was a little different. From helping alumni playing in the Alumni Game find jerseys and pads to making sure everything was as perfect as possible for the game on Saturday, the prep made my Homecoming Weekend a little more special. Watching the guys line up at the gate and then run onto the field always got the blood pumping. But being at Homecoming with the extra people in the stands made it one of the best games!”

While you’re reminiscing about your Homecoming days on campus, put this year’s Homecoming dates on your calendar and register to attend. October 14-16 is our next Homecoming & Family Weekend. We will be celebrating our very first 50-year reunion when the Class of 1972 sets foot on campus. The Pioneer Class (1972-75) is invited to usher in our first group of Golden Grads. Reunions will also take place for the classes of 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017—along with a weekend full of fun, meaningful activities for alumni and friends of the university. You can find the full Homecoming schedule and register for events at

We would love to welcome you back to campus for this fun-filled weekend!

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