St. Thomas Activities and Recreation and the homecoming committee hope the new Tommie Challenge will increase participation in spirit activities.
As of Sunday afternoon, about 1,700 people had signed up for Tommie Challenge events, which include a Tommie spirit banner contest, a digital signage contest, a “spirit video” contest and the traditional homecoming parade. The total includes 1,100 team members and approximately 600 individuals. STAR set the challenge’s capacity at 3,000 students.
STAR intern and homecoming committee member Jimmy Froehling said the deadline to sign up was 9 p.m. Sunday, but students can still register in the Anderson Student Center’s homecoming office.
“Unfortunately, since the cutoff for the banner competition and the digital signage competition is (Monday) at 9 a.m., it would be kind of difficult for them to participate in those two categories,” Froehling said. “They probably won’t be able to win Tommie Challenge, but they can still participate in it.”
The students who registered could pick up a free sweatshirt at 5 p.m. Sunday, a change from previous years’ first-come, first-serve distribution method. Another pickup session is set for Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday until 11 a.m. in the homecoming office in the student center.
Continuing with tradition, Matt Gustafson, associate director of Campus Life said there will be a dance Saturday.
Gustafson said STAR and the homecoming committee have been planning since April.
Sophomore STAR intern Maya Turner said STAR wasn’t disappointed with the homecoming events’ turnout last year, but it is always looking to increase participation among students.
“I just feel like this year there will be more participation because you join a team,” Turner said. “Participating in the Tommie Challenge, you are guaranteed a sweatshirt. I feel like that will draw more people in.”
Gustafson said he hopes the change in the sweatshirt giveaway will “increase participation” in homecoming activities.
“We feel if students are willing to take part in (the Tommie Challenge), we should give them first priority,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson said students can either sign up as individuals or as teams of up to 100 students. He said those who sign up are expected to attend the homecoming week events.
“I think (the free sweatshirt) will encourage them to attend. It’s a win-win for them because the events are exciting,” Gustafson said.
A board of staff and faculty members will judge the events. Gustafson said the first-place team will receive a catered bowling party, and if the team is a university-recognized club, organization or group, it will also receive $1,000 for its budget. Second and third place teams will be awarded a party with perks and money toward their club or organization budgets.
Although the Tommie Challenge activities require time and creativity, Turner still hopes for a strong turnout.
“I’m hoping people will still do it because I know it’s time consuming,” Turner said.
Freshman Mary Naughton said she was already interested in participating in Tommie Challenge events, but the free sweatshirt was an extra incentive.
“I like competition and any chance to compete, especially (with a) guaranteed prize. It’s always very fun,” Naughton said.
Sophomore Zachary Hurdle said he wants to get a Tommie Challenge team together because he transferred here this semester.
“It’s a good way for people to get involved on a college campus,” Hurdle said.
Junior Alex Gabriel said he isn’t interested in participating in the Tommie Challenge because of time constraints.
“I just think it’s stupid because most students have other things to do, and they should be able to grab a sweatshirt when they can get one versus having to cooperate and have to do certain activities to get one,” Gabriel said.
Froehling said of the entire week’s agenda, he’s most excited to execute the Tommie Challenge.
“I’ve been working on it since last semester. I’m excited to see how it turns out,” Froehling said.
Stephanie Dodd can be reached at email@example.com.