If you played a game of Trivial Pursuit or tuned into “Jeopardy!” the first homecoming would be credited to the University of Missouri. At Mizzou’s 1911 rivalry game against Kansas, coach and athletic director Chester Brewer invited alumni to “come home” to Columbia, Missouri, drawing a crowd of over 9,000. However, Baylor University records its first homecoming in 1909, and Northern Illinois University claims its homecoming tradition started in 1903.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) was a little late to the game – celebrating its first homecoming in 1928, according to the Gateway archives. A poem titled “On Homecoming 1928” ran in the paper and described the excitement of having the alumni, who “love their alma mater, just the same as I or you,” back home again. The first homecoming featured a rally, football game and a social hour, although there was no election of homecoming royalty.
According to an article published by the Gateway on Oct. 16, 1970, a “Miss Gateway” was traditionally elected by the student body in the spring each year in a university wide “Popularity Contest”—yes, that was the title. Traditions changed in 1935, when UNO made a “much more elaborate affair” of homecoming, implementing the first coronation ceremony. According to a Gateway article published in October,1950, the title “Miss Gateway” was then changed to “Homecoming Princess.”
1935’s homecoming featured a rally, football game, election, parade, dance and room-decorating contest. The 1950 paper also remarked that UNO had a new tradition involving the football team, stating: “They haven’t lost a Homecoming game since the war.”
Much has changed since 1935, with perhaps the biggest change occurring in 2012, as UNO celebrated homecoming week with basketball and hockey, rather than football. In 2016, UNO did away with homecoming “kings” and “queens” in favor of the gender-neutral titles of “Homecoming Royalty.” This year, the 91-year-old tradition will feature an UNO card tournament.
Homecoming Week 2019 will run from Oct. 5 to Oct. 15, with opportunities for food and entertainment every day. For more information, visit: homecoming.unomaha.edu.