Cougar pride was running wild on Friday, September 30, 2016, as Kean University students, faculty and staff gathered at Harwood Arena at approximately 6 p.m. for the annual Homecoming Pep Rally.
Not even the dreary weather on this damp autumn evening could rain on the parade of school spirit taking place inside of the jam-packed arena. Lines grew but moved steadily as tables throughout the arena corridor proudly displayed Kean-themed merchandise such as beads, blow horns and t-shirts and issued them to the eager students in attendance.
Students were given raffle tickets upon entrance, which they could exchange for Kean University merchandise or keep for raffle drawings held throughout the evening. The merchandise issued was provided courtesy of the Student Organization (the full-time undergraduate student government), who sponsored the event.
Music was booming, students were cheering and the bleachers were covered in a sea of blue wigs, foam cougar paws and thunder sticks, all of which exhibiting the school spirit shared by all inside of Harwood Arena.
Festivities got underway shortly after 6:30 p.m. with a dance performance courtesy of the Kean Dance Team (KDT). Clad in baseball, basketball and football jerseys, the KDT was completely in sync as they flipped, split and danced to the mix of chart-topping hits blaring from the speakers.
As the crowd settled in after the rousing dance performance, hosts Damion Wilson and Julian Kennebrew riled the crowd back up as they welcomed all of the cougars in attendance. Wilson is Vice President of Programming of Student Organization and a junior communication public relations major, and Kennebrew a Leadership Specialist for the Center of Leadership and Service (CLS) a junior communications major.
The energetic hosting duo then introduced the candidates for Homecoming King and Queen:
- Michael Marquez, senior speech language pathology major
- Amanda Almeida, senior cell and molecular biology major
- Alexandria Lopez, senior psychology major
- Jessica Kramer, senior communication public relations major
- Erica King, senior business management major
The hosts then gave away free merchandise, one of many times that prizes were given out to students.
There were also a variety of games to entertain the crowd. Finish the lyrics, blind envelope race and a potato sack relay gave students opportunities to win prizes while keeping them on the edge of their seats. There was even a battle of the banners, pitting a banner made by the freshman class against one made by upperclassmen. Each banner was good enough to be called winner as they both beamed with school spirit.
One recurring theme throughout the evening was the importance of unity and teamwork.
Throughout the evening, students were treated to a variety of videos made by the men’s and women’s athletic teams, but these were not ordinary highlight videos. The videos included hilarious parodies of television and film such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Sandlot and That 70s Show, as well as highlights of the team featured in the parody.
After a highlight reel showcased the grit and determination of the women’s basketball team, a three-point shootout was held with the winner receiving tickets to Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure. There was also a tug of war between athletes and students.
The Pep Rally was full of excitement for everyone in attendance, and that sentiment rang especially true for Kennebrew, who also hosted last year’s Pep Rally.
“[This year’s rally was] much more engaging, interactive and organized,” said Kennebrew. “I would absolutely host [another Pep Rally].”
The men’s football team was the last athletic team to be featured as they came out to further hype up the already enthusiastic crowd.
Dan Garrett, Head Coach of the football team, then concluded the rally with some poignant words for the student body.
“We want to have each other’s back," exclaimed Garrett. "At the end of the day, be great teammates, be great friends, be great sons and daughters and, at the end of the day, COUGAR POWER!”