Every year, Homecoming brings a flood of Kalamazoo College alumni eager to reconnect with old friends as well as network with students and other K grads. For athletes, the reunion festivities typically include alumni gatherings for varsity men and women’s soccer teams, as well as the women’s volleyball alumnae game.
This year was the first time a football game for alumni players had ever been arranged. Recent alumnus, Jacob Gallimore K’15, began planning the event during football camp this past August, where he voiced his interest to Director of Athletics Kristen Smith during a visit to the college. He ran into some logistical complications, so this year’s game was informal, and only a handful of former players knew to attend.
However, Gallimore remains determined to keep improving on this project and seems enthusiastic about organizing future alumni football games. “I will probably do a few things differently next year. For instance, I think it will be better for the game to start at 10 am rather than 9 am to improve the turn out,” Gallimore said.
The former hornets who made it to the field that morning with Gallimore were Dan Grost K’15, Thomas Tabor K’14, Trent Dykstra K’14, Ryan Gregory K’14, Nick Bolig K’14, Jake Hillenberg K’14, Blake Simon K’14, and Mike Lott K’15. They got to play old positions with old teammates and catch up with the coaches.
As he laced up his cleats, Gregory K’14 reminisced about the last time he wore this pair of shoes, when he was playing for Team Stars & Stripes at the 2013 Tazón de Estrellas (Stars Bowl) in Mexico with two of his teammates, Jake Larioza K’14 and Josh Wise K’14, who did not make it to this year’s homecoming.
For the alumni, there is something special about coming home from their various jobs and careers spread out across the country to the field where so much of their time was spent and so many of their college memories were made, to play the game they all love.
“The reason why I’m doing this is because I want current players to walk out on the field, before their big homecoming game, and see the older guys playing and think, ‘Wow, okay. This isn’t just a four-year [commitment]. This can really be a lifetime of camaraderie with my brothers–my team,” Gallimore said.
He is excited to work with Head Coach Jamie Zorbo, after this season, to go through and extend the invitation to older alumni, in order to gain a broader range of participation as this new tradition develops over the years.