Homecoming has been a long standing Olivet College tradition. How long of a tradition you ask? Ninety years. On Nov. 14, 1925, the first-ever Olivet College homecoming was held on Reed Field and the tradition was born.
According to the Nov. 4, 1925 edition of the Echo, Olivet College played its first homecoming game against Albion College.
The new tradition was greeted with enthusiasm as plans were put into place for homecoming events. The Nov. 4, 1925 Echo article explained that there was a large meeting in the chapel of the Olivet Congregational Church the night before the game, to practice cheers and college songs, backed up by the band. One cheer, found in the homecoming program and used at the game was, “Boomer-- (clap hands) -- (whistle) -- Ah-h-h-h! Olivet-- Fight!”
After the assembly there was a bonfire in the college square, a tradition that is still held.
The day of the game, intricate floats were built by the various campus societies and halls for the parade from the old high school to Reed Field. The game was to be held at 1:30 p.m. on Reed Field. After the game, a mixer between students and alumni was held in the dining hall. Olivet may have lost to Albion, 29-0, but the tradition of supporting the football team for homecoming continued on.
Olivet has long made history with its football team, even before homecoming was established. In 1888, Olivet – according to the Olivet College History Timeline – became one of the founding members of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), along with Michigan State University (then known as Michigan Agricultural College), Albion and Hillsdale. Not long after that, in 1889, Olivet became one of the first colleges to offer football to students as a sport. Five years later, in 1894, the MIAA recognized football as a league sport and the games began.
Olivet was also one of the first football teams to be racially integrated. According to Hannah Scott’s article in the Historical Society of Michigan’s magazine, Stephen Morgan was the first African-American to represent Olivet in the 1901 MIAA Championship game during the time where integration of the races on a team was almost unheard of. Olivet College went on to win eight more MIAA Championships in the years to come.
While there is no evidence that this year’s homecoming is the 90th consecutive homecoming, due to the Great Depression, World War II and lack of records, it is safe to say on Oct. 3, 2015, 90 years after the first homecoming game, the Olivet Comets will continue the tradition.