It was an almost perfect MTSU homecoming — good weather despite brief light rain briefly, an awesome parade, great tailgating food, a new homecoming king and queen, recognition of the 2022-23 MTSU Distinguished Alumni, lots of student and alumni involvement and much more.
On the field at Floyd Stadium, however, the Blue Raiders took an early first-quarter lead but fell to Conference USA rival Western Kentucky, 35-17, Saturday, Oct. 15 — the fourth consecutive loss to the Hilltoppers. After beating then-No. 25 Miami Hurricanes in Miami Sept. 24 to move to 3-1 on the season, MT has lost three straight games.
But there was still plenty to celebrate Saturday among the thousands of alumni and True Blue supporters who descended upon campus, whether for tailgating with family and friends, lining East Main Street and Middle Tennessee Boulevard to parade watch or cheering on the football team inside Floyd Stadium.
Events were coordinated by the MTSU Alumni Association, Student Government Association and MT Athletic Marketing.
One busy day
• Campus Recreation Center assistant director Ray Wiley accepted the “WKU vs MTSU Fall Blood Drive Competition” challenge trophy from American Red Cross officials for MTSU’s fourth consecutive win (and eighth total) in the “Bleed Blue” blood drive against WKU with 480 units of blood.
• Alumna Holly Thompson, early morning and noon news anchor for WSMV-News4, served as Homecoming Parade grand marshal.
• The parade featured dozens of entries, including floats, huge concrete trucks, candy for children and the Distinguished Alumni Award winners and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and first lady Liz McPhee riding in style while the Band of Blue and Lightning Dance Team entertained hundreds of spectators.
• Tailgating once again featured carnival activities and games, Middle Tennessee Electric’s awesome grilled cheese sandwiches and multiple home and pro chefs’ take ons burgers, hot dogs, barbecue, side dishes and beverages.
• Before and during the game, the Band of Blue, cheerleaders, dance team and mascot Lightning got the crowd fired up.
King and queen reign
Carson Wright and Summer Lester-Jones were crowned king and queen, respectively. The 2022 Homecoming Court featured Gabriel Baker, Myron Braden, Jacob Callahan, Kennedy Hampton, Jordyn Ewing-Roush, Abigail Smith, Nate Talley and Joelie Young.
Lester-Jones is a public relations major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She is a cheerleader and a member of Alpha Omicron Pi and the Public Relations Student Society of America.
Wright is a commercial songwriting major from Marshall County, Kentucky. He is a brother of Phi Delta Theta and has been a student orientation assistant for two years.
The event also celebrated past homecoming kings and queens.
Distinguished Alumni Awards
The MTSU Alumni Association unveiled its class of 2022-23 Distinguished Alumni uring an Oct. 14 ceremony, the Saturday morning parade and at the game.
They include the Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, Katie Vance, and Young Alumni Award recipient, Tay Keith, plus five individuals receiving this year’s True Blue Citations of Distinction: Ed Arning, Alanna Vaught, Jackie Morgan, Elveta Cooper and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Robert Powell. You can read more about this year’s recipients here.
Golden Raiders saluted
Nearly 30 Golden Raiders — members of the Class of 1972 and older — attended the Friday, Oct. 14, special event that included a campus tour, lunch and receiving a commemorative pin and diploma from McPhee. Golden Raiders have reached at least their 50th anniversary as an MTSU graduate.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)