Fresno State alumni, clear your calendars. There is a full week of homecoming events lined up — including a free, public pep rally featuring a concert by Echosmith — to welcome alumni back to campus and introduce community members to all the University has to offer.
Homecoming week is Monday through Saturday, Oct. 22 through 27. The Bulldogs football team will host Hawaii at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium followed by a fireworks show, and a raucous Red Wave will help in what could be a key matchup in the race for the Mountain West championship.
While the football game is often the focal point of homecoming week, the University has developed a schedule of events to expand the homecoming experience and deliver the largest pep rally in recent school history.
Scott Michaelson, a 1988 alumnus who graduated with a finance degree, believes expanding homecoming is a way to re-engage alumni and lift the University to a new level.
“There are a lot of good memories from being at Fresno State and it shaped who I am and put me on a path to success, and I owe something to the University for that,” said Michaelson, an account executive for Roche Diagnostic Corporation who volunteered this year to be part of Fresno State’s homecoming planning committee. “It’s not just a football game on Saturdays anymore, it’s about reconnecting with people, showing my kids what the University can do for you and being in a position to give back to the University that helped me so much.”
Michaelson is particularly excited about the pep rally and concert from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, in parking Lot P6 near the Science II building. The headline concert will be performed by Echosmith, an indie pop sibling trio known for its multi-platinum single “Cool Kids.”
Other featured guests will include DJ Kay Rich, fire dancers, the Bulldog Marching Band, the Senior Dog Squad and Fresno State athletic teams and coaches. Food trucks, a rock wall, games and inflatables will be on site and attendees can take photos with Bulldog 1, a 150-foot long red, Fresno State blimp.
“I wouldn’t miss the pep rally for anything. I hope it’s the beginning of something new and creates a full homecoming weekend,” Michaelson said.
“On Friday night it’s the pep rally and Saturday it’s the tailgate and game. You just have to show up and see all the great things happening at Fresno State.”
Michaelson’s longtime friend and former high school coach, Tony Jackson, who played wide receiver at Fresno State in 1976-77, is looking forward to getting his former teammates back together for homecoming. Last season, about 80 players and coaches from that 1977 team dubbed the “Stadium Builders” celebrated their 40th reunion at Bulldog Stadium. This year, they’ll attend the Fresno State Alumni Association homecoming tailgate, open to all alumni, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, to reunite again.
“I hope we fill that thing,” said Jackson, a district manager at Farmers Insurance, who has been emailing his former teammates about coming back for the tailgate. “I know they want to come back and this sounded like a good opportunity for us to get together again.”
Just before the rally gets started, educator and academic researcher Safiya Umoja Noble and 14 other Fresno State alumni will be celebrated for their distinguished accomplishments at the Fresno State Alumni Association’s Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, at the Save Mart Center.
Fresno State students and alumni are also embarking on a new #BlessTheBall tradition this year, where they have been relaying the homecoming game ball around campus and the community and touching it for good luck. The idea was started by Fresno State students who wanted to send the football team good vibes as they prepare to take the field. The game ball will be available at homecoming week events for students and alumni to take photos with and share on social media.
Homecoming Week Public Events
MONDAY, OCT. 22
Fired Up by the Fountain Homecoming Kickoff
11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Lawn in front of Kennel Bookstore
Featuring food trucks, games and activities
TUESDAY, OCT. 23
Outdoor Movie at Bulldog Stadium: “Ant-Man and the Wasp”
6 p.m. (gates open), 7 p.m. (movie begins)
Bring blankets and enjoy a free movie screening on the stadium turf. Victor E. Bulldog III will be on site prior to the movie showing. (No chairs, animals or outside food or drink.)
FRIDAY, OCT. 26
Pep Rally and Echosmith Concert
6 – 9 p.m. (Pep Rally) 9 to 10 p.m. (free concert)
Parking Lot P6
Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala
Save Mart Center
Soccer vs. San Jose State
Activities Friday – Sunday
SATURDAY, OCT. 27
Swim and Dive vs. Nevada
University Student Union 50th Celebration
1 – 3 p.m.
USU (Bulldog Zone and Bulldog Bowl)
Lawn north of Aquatics Center
Homecoming Football Game vs. Hawaii
Immediately following football game