Baylor Homecoming: A lifelong anchor for friendship and family
Matt Burchett (BA ’01), Nick Martineau (BBA ’01, MDiv ’04) and Jon Rolph (BA ’01) have been celebrating Baylor Homecoming together for 25 years. Ready to protect that weekend, they circle the dates on their calendars as soon as the football schedule is released.
“Homecoming is where we met each other, and it makes sense that it is how we would stay connected,” says Martineau.
The three met as freshmen at their first Homecoming bonfire. Fast friends, they decided to go through the fraternity rush together, eventually rooming together their junior year. While graduation led to moves to different states, it didn’t cause them to go their separate ways.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What does it look like for this friendship to persist? What if we could go through life together?'” Burchett reflects. “We had a lot of intention to that. It was a deliberate decision to say, ‘We want to do this together,’ and Homecoming became an anchor for that.”
The friends’ first Homecoming as freshmen was in 1997. Now, 25 years later, traditions of their own have developed and evolved, and their families are eager to be a part of the fun as well. The crew of adults and children now totals 18, and they know the annual tradition is officially started when they meet for lunch at Vitek’s on Friday afternoon. Day one concludes with Pigskin, followed by the bonfire. On Saturday morning, they always attend the parade before the football game.
“Part of what’s been fun is seeing our kids, because they’re consistently going every year, feel some of those same feelings that we do,” says Rolph. “It feels welcoming. We come back, we just feel so much joy and so much fun, and our kids have caught that. They look forward to Baylor Homecoming.”
Sharing their love for Baylor with their families has become a cherished part of their own Homecoming tradition.
“Our Baylor years were filled with some of the most fun memories,” Martineau remembers. “Coming back year after year and walking campus with our families, sharing stories from the past, and making new memories with our kids, has been a highlight.”
For Burchett, Martineau and Rolph, Homecoming is a steady point that brings them together through the changes of life.
“Homecoming was always this anchor institution for our friendship,” Burchett says. “We knew that in the chaos of life and kids and jobs and moving across states and doing different things that, because we loved Baylor and we loved each other, Homecoming was always going to be a place we’d come back to.”
And it’s that sentiment, above all, that ultimately calls the Baylor Family home for Homecoming.
Sic ’em, Bears!