What is the recipe for a great UNC Pembroke homecoming?
Big crowds, perfect weather, world-class entertainment, a spirited 50th class reunion, victory on the football field and pigs on the cooker. And that was just for starters.
“This is what homecoming should be,” said Chancellor Kyle R. Carter after the celebration on October 8. “It was a great week to be a Brave!”
At the Braves Club luncheon before the game Chancellor Carter led a large gathering of alumni and friends in a rousing “Go…Braves!” cheer.
“It’s good to see so many alumni getting together to remember the best times of their lives,” he said. “I am going on record right now saying that no one will want to miss Homecoming 2012 as we celebrate the university’s 125th anniversary. It will be legendary.”
Official attendance at the football game, which UNCP won 58-38, was 4,189. There were many special events, said Alumni Director Renee Steele ‘93. “We had something fun for everybody during the week, which is what makes homecoming special,” Steele said. “There is no way to count, but I am confident saying that a record number of alumni turned out. The weather was great, and Kool and the Gang’s performance in GPAC was outstanding.
“Everywhere I went there were alumni groups like the Tri Sigmas, Pi Kappa Alpha, former basketball players and the Black Alumni Council, who hosted a scholarship gospel sing,” she said. “When alumni who were great friends in college get back together after not seeing each other for 20 years, that’s a special moment.”
The alumni director was not alone in her assessment of Homecoming 2011. Grant Merritt ’11 returned for his 5th consecutive homecoming. “My freshman year was the first year of football, and we had fun then,” Merritt said. “But this is the best homecoming ever. They get better every year.”
Joel Beachum ‘97, who was taking homecoming photos for the Indianhead yearbook, agreed. “This is by far the best homecoming in my 10 years doing this,” he said.
Tim Brayboy ’64, who regularly attends games, said this homecoming inspired him. “This is fun,” he said. “It looks like a record crowd.”
Matt Lynch ’75, who was inducted into the UNCP Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, summed up his thoughts about homecoming and UNCP. “These were the greatest years of my life,” he said. “It’s great to come back and humbling to be honored like this.”
CLASS of 1961
Eighteen of the 83 members of the class of 1961 met on Thursday evening. The university—then Pembroke State College (PSC)—was at a turning point, and this class was at the intersection of a proud past and a daunting future.
Class of 1961 – From left: Naomi Conley, Maxine L. Chavis, Roberta Brown, Rosie L. Jolicoeur, Helen Smith, Mildred L. Placas, Wade Hunt, Pandora B. Strickland, Grady Harris, Carrie M. Jones, Frances B. Averitt, Lae Ruth Alway, Vietta S. Chavis, John P. Locklear, Rolland S. Coulon Jr., Joyce B. Maynor, Dalton P. Brooks and Flora C. Ransom
Led by Pandora Bryant Strickland, who taught music for more than 45 years in the local public schools, the class of ’61 gave a recitation and sang their alma mater, “Hail to PSC.”
“These were exciting times to be at Pembroke State College,” Strickland said. “I loved it, and I still do.”
The title of the skit was “An old dirt farmer I will not be, because I’m headed to PSC.” The university was founded to lift up a community, noted Dr. Dalton Brooks, who returned to teach physics at the university for three decades.
“When they gathered at Pates (the university’s original location), they made plans for a future like this,” Dr. Brooks said while delivering the invocation. “This university is a miracle that proves there’s nothing impossible with God.”
Alumni President Sylvia Pate praised the class for giving back in so many different ways. “Not only have you established a scholarship to benefit future students, during your careers as educators—and most of you were educators—you trained the next generation of UNCP students,” she said.
In his message to the gathering, Chancellor Carter said the class of 1961 is evidence that “UNC Pembroke produces great alumni, and you are the tangible evidence.”
The 43rd annual Alumni Awards Banquet on October 7 honored five outstanding individuals as well as major donors to the First and Ten Campaign for Football.
James (Buddy) Bell ’58 received the Distinguished Service Award. One of the community’s most recognizable citizens, he was captain of PSC’s basketball and baseball team his senior year.
Bell’s dedication to the university continues today. He was a volunteer fundraiser during the successful First and Ten Campaign, when football returned to the UNCP in 2007. He is a former member of the university’s Board of Trustees and is a founding member of the Braves Club, UNCP’s athletic booster organization.
Dr. Curt Locklear ‘75, who was also honored Friday night as a major contributor to the First and Ten Campaign, received the Outstanding Alumnus award. A veterinarian, Dr. Locklear is a member of the Chancellor’s Club, the university’s top donor organization.
Introducing her brother, Cathy Thomas said Curt Locklear “demonstrates the core values of this university: self realization, lifelong learning and mentorship of young people. His commitment to serving the region extends to churches, schools, medical care and more,” she continued. “He has shared his time, money and encouragement to foster growth in education, health, churches, charities, the arts and UNCP.”
In his remarks, Dr. Locklear said “nobody could have enjoyed being at this university as much as I did. I developed a close relationship with my professors. I spent four good years here.”
Jamie Goins, a school counselor and an advocate for youth as a professional and volunteer, received the Young Alumna Award. As an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill, she was a founding member of Pi Alpha Omega, the nation’s first sorority for American Indians.
“UNCP has been a major part of my life and the lives of my family members who attended the university,” said Goins, who earned a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Service Agency Counseling degree from UNCP. “It continues to be a big part of our lives with two nephews enrolled.”
HALL OF FAME
UNCP’s former chancellor, the late English E. Jones, and All-American wrestler Matt Lynch ‘75 were inducted as the 74th and 75th members of UNCP’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Jones era was a golden age of athletics. The university joined its first conference, won its first national championship and constructed the English Jones Health and Physical Education Center, the home of UNCP athletics.
In accepting the award, his son, Randall Jones’72, remembered a father’s love of sports. “My father truly loved this institution,” he said. “He believed in athletic programs because it brought students to this school. If he was here today, they’d have to make a place for him on the bench for football games.”
Lynch won 100 wrestling matches at UNCP, and he has coached at several local high schools and clubs over the past 36 years. He could not attend the induction ceremony due to another important engagement. He sent a message to the gathering that Athletic Director Dan Kenney read.
“This is one of the highlights of my life,” Lynch wrote. “I regret not being able to accept this award in person, but I am a coach, and this is Friday night.
“If not for wrestling, I doubt I would have found the motivation to go to college,” he continued. “I appreciate the university taking a chance on a long-haired young man from New Jersey.”
Pumped up by a large homecoming crowd, the Braves busted out of the gate and built a 20-0 lead in the first quarter. Running and passing at will, they led at halftime, 37-17.
The Pioneers of Tusculum stayed in the game, however, buoyed by the passing of Torrey Slaven who threw for 448 yards and completed 33 of 45 passes. But UNCP’s balanced air and ground attack overwhelmed the visitors.
School records were broken for total points, 58, and for total yards on offense, 665. Travis Daniels rushed for 177 yards, and sophomore quarterback Luke Charles passed for 367 more.
Coach Pete Shinnick was pleased with the Braves performance that left them 4-2 for the season.
“It's exciting to see guys make some of the plays they have been making,” Shinnick said. “I am just really happy for our guys and all of the hard work that they have put in.
“I give Tusculum a lot of credit because they find a way to score a bunch of points. That's a tribute to (Tusculum coach) Frankie (Debusk) and his staff,” he continued. “They find a way to fight and scratch and keep themselves in games.”
Chancellor Carter also praised the team’s performance. “Homecoming is always good fun, but when the home team wins, it becomes great fun,” he said. “Credit goes to Coach Shinnick, his staff and the team. They were well-prepared and motivated. The fans truly appreciated their outstanding play.”