Oct. 7, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 2

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    Homecoming ’99 festivities to revisit the past

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Fans at this year’s homecoming game at Stagg Field will celebrate the 30th anniversary of football’s return to the Midway along with players and alumni representing four decades of Maroon football.

    In conjunction with the annual Blues & Ribs party, homecoming weekend will begin with a pep rally at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, in the Ida Noyes Hall courtyard. The football game against Carnegie Mellon University will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, on Stagg Field. Half-time festivities will include a tribute to players from the modern era of football. The women’s soccer team also will compete on Saturday, playing Gustavus Adolphus at noon, while the men’s soccer team will challenge the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh at 2 p.m.

    “Homecoming is a time when we rekindle the past and take pride in our history,” said Richard Maloney, Assistant Professor in Physical Education & Athletics and Head Football Coach. “Whether they played in the’30s or the’90s, many of our players feel a strong tie to the University because they represented it on a nationwide scale.”

    The homecoming game will be the first University Athletic Association conference game this season. The opponent, Carnegie Mellon, has won the most UAA football championships. Last season, Chicago defeated Carnegie Mellon for the first time, which allowed Chicago to strip the team of the championship title and claim the first Maroon conference championship since 1924.

    Lending their support to the competition, alumni Jay Berwanger (A.B., ’36) and Gerald Ratner (Ph.B., ’35; J.D., ’37) will serve as honorary co-captains. Berwanger, a former varsity football player, was the first winner of the Heisman Trophy, and although he decided not to play professionally, he was the first pick in the first-ever National Football League draft. Ratner, a former varsity baseball player, gave $15 million to the University last year to help build the new athletics center, which will be named the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center in recognition of his gift. Both men also will speak to parents and alumni at the annual pregame picnic and cookout.

    As honorary co-captain, Ratner said his advice to the players is to “live up to the sort of game Jay (Berwanger) played.” He noted that success on the field comes from participating to the best of one’s ability and enjoying the competition.

    Coach Maloney agreed, noting that Chicago players understand the importance of preparation and dedication. “The championship was a refinement of several ingredients: excellent senior leadership, committed off-season preparation, good players with a sense of purpose, and a little bit of luck,” said Maloney. “So our motivating theme this year is ‘with excellence comes responsibility.’” Maloney said the team continues to bring the same focus and intensity they have in the classroom onto the playing field.

    Their goal on Saturday is to play their best by giving themselves every opportunity to win. And like any college athletes, Chicago players want to win, but Maloney said losing a game is not the biggest disappointment for his students.

    “At Chicago, the students’ education comes first. But playing football also is important, and it is something they love to do,” said Maloney. “I see some long faces when they’re down to their last two games of their senior year. But our graduates can always come back to the games and say they earned their piece of the ‘C.’”