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School spirit soars at Homecoming football festivities
Photos by Margi Rentis.

School spirit soars at Homecoming football festivities

October 25, 2021 at 3:48pm

A sea of blue and gold flowed beneath the arches of Parkview Hall. Brisket smoked, bottles popped and footballs flew through the air. Fans proudly threw their hands toward the sky with cries of "PAWS UP!"

A crowd overflowing with school spirit gathered at FIU on Saturday for the main event of Homecoming week: the football game. Thousands of Panthers swarmed upon Modesto A. Maidique Campus in a grand display of FIU pride.

"Today is amazing," said senior criminal justice major David Nino while making his way to FIU Stadium. "I love it. It’s so much fun to see everyone I know here. This is exactly what FIU needs. We need this pride and energy."

A sprawling party took over the southwest corner of campus on Saturday with amenities for Panthers of all ages. Fraternities forged a Greek row filled with partying students. Children glided with glee across inflatable slides and bounce houses. Alumni danced to the tunes of the FIU Marching band while they ate, drank and caught up with friends. 

The sheer size of the event filled Panthers with joy.

"My pride is definitely at a 10 out of 10," said Harry Pickering '75. "When I went here, the campus was only three buildings and an air control tower. Now the campus is huge. I paid for a lifetime membership to the Alumni Association back in the 70s and it sure was worth it in the long run."

The festivities all led up to the Panthers' annual Homecoming game. Even though FIU fell short to Western Kentucky, alumni like Pickering were proud to come out and support their team. 

"Once FIU started the football program, I was hooked. I’m a season ticket holder, and I support the Panthers whether they lose or win," he said.

The sights and sounds of Homecoming invoked sweet memories. Christopher Guerrero '12 MS '18 and Eliana San Martin '15 MS '18 overlooked the party in the Alumni Association tent with smiles, reminiscing about the days when they first started dating as grad students at FIU. They're now set to be married in April 2022. 

“I just loved my experience in graduate school," San Martin said. "I got so many friends out of it. I have three friends that are coming to my bachelorette party, and a lot of them are attending my wedding. It just goes to show that I made a lot of good relationships here.” 


Across the campus, new memories were being formed. In the stadum, sophomore nursing major Lia Ballester and her sorority sisters were dancing to every song that played during the breaks in the action of the football game.

“Alpha Omicron Pi sisters love FIU!" said Ballester. “We love the school spirit. One of our values is college loyalty, so we’re great big fans."

The Homecoming game and tailgate were strong reminders: gathering the community together is a powerful way to bring maximum pride and joy.