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Homecoming at Northwestern!

Getting Back to My Former Home

It is Homecoming week at Northwestern. For the first time in many years I am in Evanston for the event. It has been quite an experience and it’s only Thursday.

As my regular readers know, I was in the Northwestern University Marching Band (NUMB). I am now a NUMBALUM. One of the things I’m looking forward to is marching with the NUMBALUMs in the Homecoming Parade on Friday and during halftime on Saturday.

Another part of my history with NUMB is that my senior year I was the Spirit Leader. What is the Spirit Leader? Quoting from the NUMB Wikipedia article:

The Spirit Leader is in charge of leading the band, the students, and the home crowd in various cheers. By tradition, the Spirit Leader is elected by the band. The Spirit Leader's symbol of office is the Spirit Leader's Hat - a black aviator-style cloth helmet, which according to tradition belonged to a Northwestern football player who served in World War II.

I was Spirit Leader back during the Dark Times. It was a tough time to be a Northwestern football fan, but I did it because the football games gave the Band a reason to exist and to perform each home game. As I’ve said before, I bleed purple now because I bled purple back then. The football team was terrible during my four years at NU, but I was still a fan. Each week I had hope for a win and when that didn’t happen I didn’t let it get me down. And I loved being a part of the Band.

Anyway, this year’s Homecoming is driving a first in history event: the first ever SpiriTeam Reunion. Spirit Leaders, Grinders (now called Grynders, BTW), and associated people are gathering to share stories and experiences. There is a special dinner tonight (21 October) at an Evanston restaurant. It promises to be an outstanding event. I’ll provide a recap in a future column.

Northwestern is big on tradition. This SpiriTeam Reunion promises to be a great new one.

Go ‘Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)




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