Coming home is an international affair
February 14, 2008 10:38 AM
Homecoming is an American tradition. From high school to university it is a ceremony practiced across the nation. To the king and queen of this years SF State homecoming court, it was a unique experience.
Australians Stephanie Jones, 22, and Harry Srelec, 20, were crowned on Feb. 8 at the end of the men’s basketball homecoming win against Chico State University.
For Jones, an economics major here on a study abroad program from Deakin University in Melbourne and part of the International Educational Exchange Council, this was a unique experience.
Referring to the near capacity crowd at the Swamp, Jones said, “We have nothing like this [in Australia], you would never see a sporting event like this.” She was eager to get involved with the school and get the most out of her six months in San Francisco.
“When I told my parents I was nominated, they didn’t even know what [homecoming] was,” she said.
Strelec, a political science and psychology double major said, “It was cool, really cool,” and agreed with Jones that it was nothing like what they have down under.
The court, made up of three female and three male students, was different from the one from last year, in which sorority members made up a large number of the nominations, according to Obiamaka Eke, 20.
Eke is the president of the Student Advisory Athletic Committee, which planned the event that was co-sponsored with the ASI.
“The International Education Exchange Committee was really excited,” she said.
Courtney Oxsen, 21, co-chair of the committee and fellow court nominee, said the organization is “one of the most important parts of this campus, and with over 1,000 members is one of the biggest organizations on campus.”
Oxsen, a creative writing and Spanish major who studied abroad in Madrid and enjoys playing intramural soccer, said that the organization is to help integrate foreign students and give them a chance to meet people who they otherwise wouldn’t meet.
The homecoming event itself was quite the spectacle, with the often half-empty stadium alive. SF State came into the homecoming game with a winning record. One section of the crowd remained standing for the entire game, cheering our team, jeering the other. Another section was devoted entirely to IEEC students. Eke, a business major and member of the women’s track and field team, said, “You see a lot of people you wouldn’t usually see at a game and hopefully they will stay and come again.”
The SAAC had made several changes to homecoming this year with a week’s worth of events on the quad leading up to the big night and a catered comedy night on the Tuesday before the game. Eke said there are plans next year to introduce a barbeque before the game and to continue improving the event.
The court lined up right before halftime; Oxsen, Jones and Strelec were joined by fellow nominees Frandel Lladoc, 21, Russell Graham, 23, and Ashley Ommen, 18, beside the basketball court. The six took the court to enthusiastic applause. The halftime show included a high school ROTC band, which with their loud beats and energetic routine kept the crowd loud and involved, generating a party-like atmosphere to match the balloons and banners that descended like confetti over the swamp. It was followed by a routine by the SF State cheerleading squad. The school band then played a medley of video game classics from games such as Zelda, Tetris and Mario to some nostalgic appreciation from those listening.
Ommen, a business marketing major arrived from a cross-country practice almost as the game started. “It was really hectic, it’s exciting, a little embarrassing,” she said.
The game itself was an exciting affair; with two minutes left, Chico was down by five, but missed two big free throws in part to the distraction caused by the home fans behind the basket, yelling, moving and pestering the visiting team. The following air ball by Chico brought the rest of the crowd to its feet, shouting in unison, “air ball!”
The game ended with the Gator men pulling off another win.
“It’s a wonderful, beautiful night and it’s really sharp,” Graham said.
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