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Rain doesn’t deter MTSU homecoming festivities — a...

Rain doesn’t deter MTSU homecoming festivities — and Raiders reign [+VIDEO, GALLERY]

MTSU students, alumni and friends celebrated a “True Boo” Homecoming 2021 — despite a day-long rain — and the Blue Raiders 35-10 victory against visiting Southern Mississippi made for an even happier occasion.

The in-person MTSU Homecoming Parade returned for the first time since 2019 following a year off because of COVID-19. Students, alumni, families, friends and Blue Raider supporters tailgated, posed for photos and reminisced about school days past and present to wrap up the week of activities. (See a full photo gallery at bottom of this story.)

MTSU students walk with their float they created for the 2021 Homecoming Parade down Middle Tennessee Boulevard in fron of The Alumni House. Rain did not dampen the spirits of those attending the annual event, held in-person after a one-year break because of COVID-19. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students walk with their float they created for the 2021 Homecoming Parade down Middle Tennessee Boulevard in fron of The Alumni House. Rain did not dampen the spirits of those attending the annual event, held in-person after a one-year break because of COVID-19. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Homecoming is a way for everyone connected to the university to celebrate the decades of traditions — food, fun and fellowship at various activities throughout the week.

“Through the raindrops, everyone who attended homecoming events were smiling and so happy to be on campus,” said Rhonda King, Office of Alumni Relations assistant director. “It’s always an honor to hosts alumni on campus.”

MTSU’s Student Government Association, in partnership with the Signature Events Committee and Student Programming and Raider Entertainment (SPARE), also coordinated various student-oriented events throughout the week including a concert, step show, and a pumpkin patch decoration activity and yard party in and around the Student Union.

MTSU seniors Ashlee Dunn, left, of Jackson, Tenn., and Joshua Gray of St. Louis, Mo., were announced as Homecoming queen and king in Floyd Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, accepting their crowns from MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and first lady Elizabeth McPhee. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU seniors Ashlee Dunn, left, of Jackson, Tenn., and Joshua Gray of St. Louis, Mo., were announced as Homecoming queen and king in Floyd Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, accepting their crowns from MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and first lady Elizabeth McPhee. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU students walk with their float they created for the 2021 Homecoming Parade down Middle Tennessee Boulevard in front of The Alumni House. Rain did not dampen the spirits of those attending the annual event, held in-person after a one-year break because of COVID-19. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students walk with their float they created for the 2021 Homecoming Parade down Middle Tennessee Boulevard in front of The Alumni House. Rain did not dampen the spirits of those attending the annual event, held in-person after a one-year break because of COVID-19. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

And, as is tradition, the 2021 Homecoming king and queen were announced at the football game inside Floyd Stadium, with students Joshua Gray and Ashlee Dunn accepting their crowns from MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and first lady Elizabeth McPhee on Jones Field.

Both seniors, Dunn is a mechatronics engineering major from Jackson, Tennessee, while Gray is a recording industry/commercial songwriting major from St. Louis, Missouri.

To view video from the second MTShU Showcase, shoebox-size parade floats selected for airing on True Blue TV earlier that week, go here.

The 2021-22 MTSU Distinguished Alumni were recognized during Homecoming Weekend. The group includes Matthew Hibdon, left, National Alumni Association Board president; Civil Air Patrol Col. Barry Melton; U.S. Air Force Col. Joel Cook; MTSU professor Rebecca Foote; Gabrielle Thompson; Torrance Esmond; Chip Walters; Mitch Miller and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. Thompson is the Young Alumni recipient, Esmond is the Distinguished Alumnus and the others received Citations of Distinction recognition. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

The 2021-22 MTSU Distinguished Alumni were recognized during Homecoming Weekend. The group includes Matthew Hibdon, left, National Alumni Association Board president; Civil Air Patrol Col. Barry Melton; U.S. Air Force Col. Joel Cook; MTSU professor Rebecca Foote; Gabrielle Thompson; Torrance Esmond; Chip Walters; Mitch Miller and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. Thompson is the Young Alumni recipient, Esmond is the Distinguished Alumnus and the others received Citations of Distinction recognition. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Distinguished Alumni recognition

On Friday and Saturday, MTSU’s Distinguished Alumni were recognized during special occasions. Honorees included:

  • Distinguished Alumnus Torrance “Street Symphony” Esmond(Class of 2003) of Nashville, Tennessee. He is a record producer, music executive, composer and adjunct MTSU professor, spearheading a new hip-hop and R&B songwriting class.
  • Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient Gabrielle Thompson (Classes of 2012 and ’15) of Nashville is Free for Life International’s executive director and CEO for the past six years. The award goes to a graduate age 35 or younger making a positive impact in the world.

For the eighth year, True Blue Citations of Distinction were awarded. Categories, including a new one for Military Service, and this year’s honorees include:

  • Achievement in Education (MTSU faculty) —Rebecca Foote (Class of 2006), of Murfreesboro, a Jones College of Business faculty member and Master Instructor coordinator in the Department of Accounting.
  • Achievement in Education (non-MTSU faculty) — Mitchell Miller (Classes of 1990 and ’91),of Middleburg, Florida, the John A. Delaney Presidential Professor at the University of North Florida, where he also serves as editor of the American Journal of Criminal Justice.
  • Service to University —Chip Walters (Class of 1985), of Murfreesboro, the longtime “Voice of the Blue Raiders” in football and men’s basketball and master of ceremonies for various athletic and universitywide functions and volunteer on numerous MTSU boards and committees.
  • Service to Community —Col. Barry Melton (Class of 1982), of Cleveland, Tennessee, who has worked since 1986 in numerous capacities with the Civil Air Patrol.
  • MilitaryService — Col. Joel Cook (Classes of 1992 and ’93), of Yorktown, Virginia, who has spent 30 years in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot, vice wing commander and current director/chief at Air Combat Command headquarters in Virginia.
Suma Clark, left, former director of the MTSU Department of Publications and Graphics (now Creative Marketing Solutions) visits with Kathleen Schmand, dean of the James E. Walker Library, Friday, Oct. 29, during the Golden Raiders reunion. The Classes of 1970-71 and beyond were recognized this year during homecoming. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Suma Clark, left, former director of the MTSU Department of Publications and Graphics (now Creative Marketing Solutions) visits with Kathleen Schmand, dean of the James E. Walker Library, Friday, Oct. 29, during the Golden Raiders reunion. The Classes of 1970-71 and beyond were recognized this year during homecoming. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Golden Raiders gather

Because COVID curtailed 2020 Homecoming activities, the National Alumni Association brought together the Classes of 1970 and ’71 and beyond for a dual Golden Raiders get-together.

Dozens of Golden Raiders gathered Friday, Oct. 29, for the festivities.

“Our Golden Raiders relived their college days and were amazed at the growth and progress of their alma mater,” King said. “It was heartwarming to visit with Golden Raiders who graduated in 1971, 1970 and many years prior.”

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

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