The Collegian
Saturday, April 13, 2024

CAB, football team to host bonfire before homecoming

The Campus Activities Board and the Richmond Rowdies have teamed up with the football team to organize a homecoming bonfire tomorrow night to increase excitement for the game against Villanova University at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, one of the most highly anticipated Football Championship Subdivision games of the season.

The bonfire will begin at 8:45 p.m. and take place on the sand volleyball court next to the intramural fields. Head football coach Mike London and the rest of the football team will attend. All students, season-ticket holders, community members and Spider Club members are welcome to come as well.

The bonfire planning began around the end of September, and encountered only a few obstacles, Rowdies executive board member Matt Dreyfuss said.

"I met with coach London and he was the one who actually came up with the idea for the bonfire," Dreyfuss said. "Then we had to talk to the [Department of Safety Services and Risk Management] and that's when we learned a bonfire had been done before."

Another bonfire was held on campus about 10 years ago, Dreyfuss said, so the officials within the Department of Safety Services and University Facilities were open to doing it again. But because the campus lies partially in the city of Richmond and partially in Henrico County, the location had to be specific.

"The city of Richmond doesn't allow bonfires," CAB president Josh Huffines said. "It became apparent that it wasn't going to happen in Richmond city, but Henrico doesn't have a law against it."

Because the volleyball courts are within the limits of Henrico County, they are the perfect location for the bonfire, Huffines said.

"[The location] should get a lot of the University Forest Apartment kids out," he said, "which could be a big difference from some of our other events."

Dreyfuss agreed.

"It's going to be great because it's true that some of our events are dominated by freshmen," he said. "By having the upperclassmen there, it might seem like the cool thing to do, and hopefully it will be a unifying event."

The University Facilities officials will start and control the fire, which Huffines said would be about 5 feet by 10 feet in size and burn for about 45 minutes. CAB and the Rowdies primarily focused on planning events that would go on during the event.

Though the plans aren't final, Huffines said he hoped to have some field-day types of events, such as a three-legged race or milk-chugging contest. There will also be free pizza from Papa John's during the event, which should last until about 10 p.m.

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Dreyfuss said that the Homecoming king and queen finalists would also be announced during the bonfire and each would have an opportunity to give a short speech or show off a talent.

London, who often makes appearances at student events, such as a dodgeball fundraiser last spring and the more recent Pi Beta Phi lip sync, said he thought the coaches and the team had a responsibility to help increase school spirit.

"I just think if you're going to talk about school spirit, don't just talk about it," London said. "Be about it. ... People ask me, 'Hey, coach, what are you doing here?' Well, why wouldn't I be there? That way people think: 'He came to my events. Why wouldn't I go to his?'

"We try to make the athletes accessible and available because you're asking people to go to games, so you want to be supportive."

Huffines and Dreyfuss said the football team's success had helped unite the school and bring a resurgence of school spirit, and they hoped the bonfire would help increase fan support for the big game the following afternoon.

"The goal is to raise the excitement level for what should be one of the best games in the country on Saturday," Dreyfuss said.

The two also said they hoped the event might be something that could continue on Homecoming weekends in the future.

"This is something that if we start now, it could turn into a tradition for years to come," Huffines said.

Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at reilly.moore@richmond.edu

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