Lights flooded the stage as cheers and whistles echoed throughout the Marriott Center. The loud tap and boom of silver gleaming drums reverberated through the chests of thousands as the blue and white-clad BYU Marching Band heralded in homecoming week during the opening ceremony on Oct. 15.
Woodwinds, brass and percussionists took the audience on a musical journey as they performed bits from various movie scores, such as “The Greatest Showman,” “Mary Poppins,” and Marvel’s “The Avengers.” The audience clapped and cheered as the band played and danced.
The cheers hushed when the lights dimmed as the band exited the stage.
To commemorate Cosmo’s 66 birthday, clips of Cosmo’s life dominated the Marriott Center’s big screens — footage of the ever-limber cougar flipping, dancing and diving through vignettes of BYU’s successes and defeats.
It was on these successes and defeats that Hope Thomas, winner of this year’s George H. Brimhall Memorial Essay Contest, spoke to the audience.
“Cosmo will outlive all of us. He will be doing backflips and walking down the bleachers on his hands long after the current students have developed arthritis,” she said. “That’s the secret to his resilience. He knows it’s not just this one game. He will go on to see thousands of wins and thousands of losses. His optimism isn’t pinned to an event but to a team.”
Just like Cosmo, Thomas said she learned something valuable through her time at BYU.
“Through these highs and lows, BYU has cultivated in me a relentless resilience from failing,” Thomas said. “Like most, I came to college expecting to learn how to be a success. Instead, I learned something infinitely more valuable: how to be a failure.”
The opening ceremony continued with performances from singing group BYU Noteworthy, vocalist Hilary Weeks and the cheer squad.
After the cheer squad finished their performance of high flips, lifts and tosses, BYU men’s basketball coach Mark Pope talked about the importance of belief, team and passion through visual clips of accomplishments in sports history.
“They don’t happen very often,” Pope said, talking about physical feats in sports. “They’re extraordinary. That’s part of what makes them special. But when you recognize belief and team and passion, you know you at least have the building blocks — the ingredients to the stew — that can make something really extraordinary.”
After Pope’s remarks, the BYU Dunk Team ran onto the floor, performing flip after flip and dunk after dunk — eliciting cheers from thousands of standing students, faculty and alumni.
As BYU President Kevin J Worthen said at the beginning of the opening ceremony, “Get involved, enjoy the celebration and ‘Rise and Shout.’”