Alumni celebrate history, make new memories over Homecoming Weekend
For close to 50 years, Liberty University has continued to expand in its campus infrastructure and student and alumni achievements, and Homecoming is a reminder each year of where the school came from and how much God has grown and blessed it.
Homecoming 2019 celebrated the history of Liberty and welcomed thousands of alumni and families to campus for the annual bonfire, parade down University Boulevard, food and games at the Alumni Tailgate, and evening football game followed by fireworks. Alumni received free giveaways and discounted admission at the weekend’s athletics events, the School of Music Homecoming Concert, Alumni Tailgate, and Scaremare. Multiple alumni games provided opportunities for past student-athletes to suit up once again.
“They make the alumni feel so special here, and it’s really a celebration of being a Liberty graduate,” said Troy Adams, who studied through Liberty’s online program. “This was my wife (Vanessa) and I's first time seeing the new changes at the stadium, and we love the fireworks. I’ve never seen a firework display like they have here.”
Ted Shannon, who played for Liberty’s football team in the early years of the program, said he makes a point to revisit the campus and has attended almost all of the Homecoming weekends since graduating in 1982. He reminisced about football practices on Treasure Island and the players he shared a sideline with, including tight end Steve Kearns, who went on to play in the Canadian Football League and was inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.
“I’m so proud of what this school has become, and my wife and I love seeing how it continues to grow each year,” Shannon said. “I remember the old days of Dr. (Jerry) Falwell pointing at the land on the mountain and telling us his dream of the buildings and university that would be there someday, and now we’re seeing those dreams come true.”
The weekend began at Friday morning’s Convocation with television personality and author Mike Rowe, best known as host of “Dirty Jobs.” Rowe shared his admiration for the blue-collar work ethic portrayed on that show, and he encouraged students to pursue education and careers that will lead to success and serving others.
The weekend was the first opportunity for many alumni to tour the new School of Business building. The School of Business hosted an open house on Friday, complete with tours and information on the program, and also conducted an alumni panel. Several alumni saw for the first time new and improved landmarks such as Freedom Tower and the expanded Williams Stadium.
“The last time I came to campus for Homecoming was 2011, and I have always loved to see the changes and bring my kids here to see them, too,” said Sara Bliley (’97). “I went up into the Freedom Tower and saw the view of campus from up there, and it’s so nice to see what has been added to the landscape.”
Two major names in the sphere of Liberty Athletics were honored during Homecoming. Al Worthington, a longtime baseball manager and athletic director, was recognized when the current baseball field was dedicated in his name on Saturday afternoon. Worthington started Liberty’s baseball program in 1974 and finished with a record of 343-189-1, remaining as the school’s winningest manager and being inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. Former wide receiver and NFL player Kelvin Edwards had his No. 83 Liberty jersey retired during Saturday’s football game. Edwards finished his time at Liberty with 2,546 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns, both program records at the time.
Liberty’s football matchup against Maine continued the theme of record-setting career moments as standout wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden became Liberty’s all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,295, passing Darrin Peterson. Quarterback Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert surpassed Josh Woodrum’s record for career passing yards with 10,282. Calvert also currently has the school record for touchdown passes, while Gandy-Golden already holds the program record for touchdown receptions and is on pace to pass Peterson for career receptions by the end of the season.
Liberty defeated Maine 59-44, marking the 10th win out of its last 14 Homecoming games and fifth win in a row this season.