BYU welcomed students and alumni home with a Homecoming opening ceremony filled with performances and speeches centered on the theme “Go With Courage.”
This year’s Homecoming theme honors Susa Young Gates. Gates, a daughter of Brigham Young, was a writer, prominent player in the suffrage movement and founder of the Brigham Young Academy Music Department.
Students previously submitted essays on Gates’s legacy and courage, as well as the Homecoming theme, in the 2016 George H. Brimhall Memorial Essay Contest. Winner Sarah Kay Miller read her essay, which compared Miller’s struggle with cancer to Gates’s three-year period of near-fatal illness, at the opening ceremony.
Miller’s words echoed those of President Kevin J. Worthen, who encouraged all to follow Gates’s example. He said life requires people to take fresh courage every day, but things will work out for those who keep busy and press on.
BYUSA members went through the agenda of Homecoming activities, but the crowd roared loudest at the mention of the football game against Mississippi State.
Head football coach Kalani Sitake took the stage with several team members, including quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams. They invited everyone to the game, and Williams demonstrated his famous touchdown dance. Hill also spoke about how critical student support is to team morale.
“You have no idea how much of a difference it makes when we take the field and feel the ROC behind us,” Hill said.
Many students yelled when Coach Sitake asked who would attend the game and cheer.
Matthew Richardson, BYU advancement vice president, said he hoped every student would make BYU home, referencing “The Wizard of Oz” and Yoda’s home in “Star Wars” to make his point.
“Whether it’s a slimy mudhole or a range where the deer and the antelope roam, there’s no place like home,” Richarson said. “After all these years, I still feel at home here and I love being part of BYU.”