More than 300 Corps of Cadets alumni and their family members are expected to return to Blacksburg this weekend for the corps’ annual homecoming, the largest group ever to participate in the event.
Carol Brunelli, executive assistant for the corps’ alumni relations, handled registration for the various events surrounding homecoming weekend.
“Registration has increased over the years,” Brunelli said. “The average is around 300, but we have over 330 coming to the homecoming dinner.”
The homecoming dinner, which will take place Saturday at The Inn at Virginia Tech, is one of several events that will occur throughout the weekend. Other events include a cadet leadership dinner, a formal retreat, a scholarship donor breakfast and the Day with Cadets program.
“One change we made this year was opening up the Day with Cadets to all of the alumni,” Brunelli said. “They’ll get to see the obstacle course, tour the barracks and the corps museum, and basically stay busy from 9 in the morning until 5 at night.”
The funding for these various events comes from the returning alumni who participate in them. According to Brunelli, an additional fee to cover the costs accompanies each event. Alumni can choose which events to attend when submitting their registration forms.
One event that stands out for Jim Flynn, a Corps of Cadets graduate of the class of 1964, is the alumni regiment march into Lane Stadium, which will take place before Saturday’s Bowling Green game.
“Marching onto the field with all the other cadets is quite an experience,” Flynn said. “You get to see folks that were in classes before and (after) you. That’s my favorite part of homecoming.”
Cole Freeman, a senior studying political science and a current member of the corps, feels that marching with the alumni is different from a normal home game experience for the cadets.
“One of the things they always tell us in the corps is that you’re putting on a uniform that’s been put on for over 100 years,” Freeman said. “But being able to actually see it? I mean, these guys graduated 30 or 40 years ago. It really puts it all into perspective.”
The events that take place during homecoming weekend provide current cadets with a chance to form relationships with the classes that came before them, and a large portion of the corps takes full advantage of the opportunity.
“About 50 percent of cadets do both the Friday dinner with the current corps regimental staff and the informal homecoming dinner on Saturday,” Brunelli said. “Everyone tends to participate."
While homecoming allows former students to return to their alma mater, Freeman believes it serves another role for the freshmen that just entered the corps life in August.
“It’s kind of a morale booster for them,” Freeman said. “The corps experience might not be the most fun thing right now, but they see that these alumni are saying that the corps is what made them successful throughout their lives. It’s kind of a way of picking them back up after they’ve had a rough couple of weeks.”
According to Flynn, this early realization is just one of the many lessons that the cadets will learn from their time in the corps as it prepares them for life after college.
“[The corps] taught me that you can’t do it all yourself,” Flynn said. “You could play all the instruments, but you can’t make music playing one instrument at a time. You’ve got to get everybody working together. That’s one thing I’ve learned through the Corps of Cadets. Whatever life threw at me, I was able to handle. Thank goodness.”
As for the future of the Corps of Cadets homecoming, Freeman assures that the tradition will not stop with his graduating class.
“I love Tech. Any excuse to come back here, I’m going to take it.”