October 8, 2010 : By Liberty University News Service
Liberty University welcomed its largest alumni crowd to campus during Homecoming this weekend, Oct. 8-9.
The weekend festivities started off strong with a free concert by Christian performing artist and alumna Meredith Andrews (’05). The intimate concert was Andrews’ first vocal performance since giving birth to her first child, Maverick, on Sept. 1.
A special Homecoming convocation on Friday featured motivational speaker Pat Williams, co-founder and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, as well as the Alumnus of the Year award presentation.
Following convocation, alumni and supporters enjoyed making new connections at the Business Executives Luncheon, which featured special guests Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., Vice Chancellor Dr. Ron Godwin, Pat Williams, and Virginia Sen. Steve Newman.
New to the Homecoming schedule this year was the Pastor’s Luncheon, also held on Friday, in honor of alumni serving in Christian ministry. Attendees met with Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church; Dr. Elmer Towns, Liberty University co-founder and dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and the School of Religion; and Liberty’s campus pastors for a time of encouragement.
More than 300 alumni and supporters attended the Chancellor’s Dinner held Friday night in the newly expanded Williams Stadium. The evening included dinner with Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife, Becki, and a tour of the stadium expansion with Jeff Barber, Liberty’s Director of Athletics.
Head football coach Danny Rocco and the Liberty cheerleaders kick off the bonfire Friday night.
View more homecoming photos
Liberty’s Student Activities office kept the momentum going and closed out Friday evening with a bonfire and pep rally, which included an appearance by Liberty’s head football coach, Danny Rocco, the Liberty University drum line, cheerleaders, and the Flames football team. Marshmallows were roasted and cheers were chanted as students and alumni got a jump start on Saturday’s game day celebration.
Early risers set the pace for Saturday’s celebration as they hit the trails on Liberty Mountain to run in the Deep Hollow Half Marathon and 5K hosted by Student Activities. Later in the day, students and alumni lined University Boulevard in anticipation of the beloved Homecoming parade. Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife Becki tossed candy to the eager parade crowds, and were followed by creative floats, such as a “No Smoking” themed float sponsored by Liberty’s Nursing Department.
Flames spirit was evident as pre-game tailgaters gathered outside of Williams Stadium grilling hot dogs, tossing footballs, and reconnecting with old friends.
Students and alumni began filling the seats of Williams Stadium nearly two hours prior to kick-off, fulfilling the team’s motto of Be Early, Be Loud, and Wear Red and creating a sea of red across the stands.
More than 18,000 fans cheered the Flames to a 44-20 victory over Charleston Southern during Saturday’s Homecoming game. Liberty’s win over the Buccaneers brings their record to 4-2 and gives the Flames their first Big South Conference victory. For more on the game, go to www.LibertyFlames.com.
Following the football game, alumni were honored at a special reception at the Tolsma Indoor Track where they gathered with friends, new and old, to recount their days at Liberty. Memories were shared and stories were swapped and, more importantly, graduates from across the years were united by their Liberty pride.
Melissa Small (’02), director of Alumni Relations, called the weekend a smashing success, drawing more alumni than ever to Liberty Mountain during Homecoming.
“We had thousands of alumni come from all over the country,” said Small. “We had alumni representing every anniversary: five, 10, and even 25 years.”
Melvin Sayler (’85), who had not set foot on Liberty’s campus since 1990, left after work on Thursday to make the eight-hour trek from Ohio to Virginia.
“I thought I would drive half the way, but I just kept driving because I was so excited,” said Sayler. “When I pulled on to campus, I just started sobbing. It was like coming home.”
Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said he talked with alumni from all over the country who were impressed by Liberty’s advancements over the years.
“A lot of alumni were telling me that they are planning to send their kids here. Instead of [only] talking about the good old days, they are talking about the future," he said. "That is what we are trying to do with all the exciting things that we have here; to attract people to Liberty so we can train champions for Christ."