MU coach's invitation to 'come home' starts ritual

Coach and athletic director Chester Brewer is credited with creating Homecoming.
Sunday, October 14, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CDT; updated 10:49 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

If MU is really the birthplace of Homecoming, then one MU coach can be credited with inventing the annual tradition.

Chester Brewer, a multi-sport coach and MU’s athletic director in the early to mid-1900s, has been recognized as the creator of Homecoming after he came up with the idea in 1911.

To increase attendance and excitement for that year’s rivalry football game against Kansas, Brewer invited alumni to “come home” for the game. In celebration of the alumni’s return, more than 9,000 fans piled into Rollins Field, now Stankowski Field, for a parade and spirit rally before the game.

Brewer, who coached the football team from 1911-1913, was also the athletic director from 1911-1917 and from 1924-1934. During his career, he also coached MU basketball, baseball and track and led MU teams to 16 conference championships. He also supervised the construction of Rollins Field’s bleachers in 1911, Memorial Stadium in 1926 and Brewer Fieldhouse in 1930.

Since Brewer’s first “coming home” celebration in 1911, thousands of schools and colleges across the nation have followed suit and invited alumni to “come home” every year.

Although the board game Trivial Pursuit, the NCAA and Jeopardy give the Homecoming title to MU, several other schools make the same claim.

The University of Illinois argues it had the first organized Homecoming in 1910. The school credits two seniors, Clarence Williams and W. Elmer Ekblaw, of the class of 1910, with creating the tradition, when they decided that a football game should be the centerpiece of a celebration to bring back alumni. The seniors proposed their idea to the Council of Administration, which approved it Oct. 14, 1910, as “Homecoming day,” and it became an annual tradition.

Baylor University also claims to have created the tradition. In 1909, Baylor held an alumni event called “Home-Coming” to bring former students back together. The event included a concert, pep rally, parade, bonfire and football game. Their next “Home-Coming” celebration, however, was not until 1915.

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