Homecoming 2023 honors old traditions and creates new ones

The Lees-McRae campus welcomed alumni with open arms and sunny skies for the annual celebration

The early autumn clouds parted and the sun shone down in Banner Elk for a perfect Lees-McRae Homecoming weekend. From Friday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 1, the college’s campus was filled with Bobcats of all ages ready to come home to the mountains.

The annual celebration has become tradition for some Bobcats who attend Homecoming each year, while others couldn’t have been happier to return to campus for the first time since graduating—which for some, was 50 years ago. Both Homecoming regulars and excited first timers had an exhilarating weekend of activities ahead of them, kicking off with the first-ever BobcatFest on Tate Lawn.

Current students bonded over delicious food…

while alumni caught up on college updates with President Lee King.

The cheerleading and dance teams brought the Bobcat spirit and got the crowd of partygoers excited for the day of athletics events to come on Saturday. After the pep rally and the recognition of the soccer teams, Director of Campus Life Riley Smithey announced the four Homecoming awards: Homecoming Service Award, Homecoming Spirit Week Award, and Homecoming King and Queen.

Homecoming King and Queen are awarded to the students who earn the most votes from their peers. The Homecoming Spirit Week Award is awarded each year to the student who earns the most spirit points by attending various Spirit Week events in the week leading up to Homecoming, while the Homecoming Service Award is presented to the registered student organization or team that collects the most items for Feeding Avery Families during Spirit Week.

The 2023 Homecoming King was senior Sports Management major Cameron Adair…

and the 2023 Homecoming Queen was junior Criminal Justice major Hannah Foster.

The Homecoming Spirit Week Award winner was Soleil Correa (left), a representative of the college’s cheerleading team, and the Homecoming Service Award winner was Delta Omicron Theta Sorority, represented by Kayla Barber (right).

The Green and Gold Brunch on Saturday morning was the perfect time for alumni to mingle and reflect on their time at Lees-McRae, whether they were celebrating 70 years since graduation or seven. Three Bobcat alumni were recognized with awards during the brunch.

Outgoing Alumni Association President and Adjunct Professor Talia Freeman ’07, pictured at left with incoming Alumni Association President Christopher Finley ’96, was honored for her commitment and dedicated service to the college. Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation President Jesse Pope ’02, pictured in the middle, was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award. In memory of his wife Dorothy “Dottie” Morgan Shoemaker ’56, Bion “Shoe” Shoemaker, pictured right with Vice President for Institutional Advancement Susan Boyette, was declared an honorary alumnus of the class of 1956.

That afternoon, alumni migrated to the Fred I. Dickerson Athletics Complex for a series of sporting events. Bobcat Bank was packed with tailgating fans for the men’s and women’s soccer games. The women’s team took home the win over the Young-Harris College Mountain Lions, while the men’s team tied. Regardless of the score, however, the Bobcat Pride was palpable.

Proud parents came out to rep their players…

while enthusiastic alumni came out to rep their team.

The weekend was a smashing success for students, athletes, and returning alumni alike as they bonded over food, sports, and their love of all things Lees-McRae. We’ll see you next year, Bobcats, but in the meantime keep an eye on the college’s Instagram and Facebook pages for more photos from this weekend of fun.

By Maya JarrellOctober 03, 2023
AlumniCampus Life