Women take the lead
The three directors of the Homecoming Steering Committee are the first all-female group of directors since 1911.
Oct. 23, 2013
The 2013 Homecoming directors are all female — the first time since Homecoming began in 1911.
The trio of directors — Jordan Denker, Katherine Ottolin and Courtney Doll — said they were excited to be working on Homecoming regardless of this fact.
“I was just honored to be chosen,” Ottolin said. “(The committee members) do pay attention to diversity, but we’re just looking for the best students who can devote their time, be flexible and give a 110 percent.”
Alyson Friend, the Mizzou Alumni Association Student Programs coordinator, worked closely with the Homecoming Steering Committee and the tri-directors.
“I think it’s great that we have three female directors, but it really comes down to the best candidates and who will work the best together,” Friend said. “They work really great together, and each have big personalities, different backgrounds and involvement on campus they bring to the table. We spend a lot of time together, and they have grown to be like my kids.”
The three were on the Steering Committee in 2012 and have been good friends since, Ottolin said.
“They are some of my best friends,” Ottolin said. “I think we were chosen to be directors because we can work very well with each other.”
Senior Jordan Denker, a native of St. Charles, said she originally did not consider attending MU because “that’s what everyone does.”
She later became enchanted with the campus and the students during a visit and changed her initial decision.
Denker is wrapping up her senior year in business management. She hopes to work in project management and international business after graduating.
During her time at MU, Denker had been involved with various campus organizations as a Missouri Students Association senator, Department of Student Activities member, Pi Beta Phi executive board member and Special Olympics volunteer.
She was also a member of the Steering Committee last year. As a director of the Steering Committee, Denker has lead three of the nine subcommittees: campus decorations, blood and special events.
Denker said the preparation process has been going by smoothly with few problems.
“I can’t really pinpoint a challenge,” Denker said. “We’ve had such a great committee, and the students we work with are excellent. I was just telling my advisor today that I’m worried I’m not stressed yet.”
For Denker, tradition and service are the reason why Homecoming is so important.
“I think Mizzou really prides itself on tradition, and Homecoming is the core tradition at Mizzou that students can identify with,” Denker said. “We also do so much giving back. With the blood drive and the food bank, it’s about what’s truly important: to be able to give back to those who need it.”
Denker applauded her coworkers in the Steering Committee and the Mizzou Alumni Association.
“The people that we work with — the staff at MAA, the students that we work with — are incredible,” Denker said. “The students that are participating in Homecoming are really the core reason Homecoming is what it is.”
Senior Katherine Ottolin is the Steering Committee director from Wheaton, Ill.
Ottolin has two older brothers, both of whom attended MU. Both encouraged her to follow in their footsteps.
“I got on campus and loved it,” Ottolin said. “It was just a perfect fit.”
She began her studies in teaching but switched sports management after her freshman year.
Ottolin was involved with the floor government of her residence hall freshman year, on the Phi Mu executive board as intramural chairwoman and president of the Mizzou Women’s Club Basketball team in the last year.
She was also tapped into Mortar Board, one of MU’s six secret societies.
Ottolin is in charge of the talent, traditions and outreach subcommittees.
She said that Homecoming was special to her because it brings the university and members of the community together.
“Homecoming is important to me because it doesn’t matter what Greek chapter or campus organization you’re in or what residence hall you live in,” Ottolin said. “You’re putting this on for the campus, the community and the alumni. And the fact that everyone gets along to be able to do that and that this is unlike anybody else’s Homecoming gives me pride in my university.”
Ottolin expressed her satisfaction in the work the Homecoming Steering Committee has accomplished so far.
“I could not be more proud of not only my committees but the Steering Committee as a whole,” Ottolin said. “Those 30 kids do an unbelievable job. The amount of early mornings and late nights they have put in, the time and hard work they devote to Homecoming is unbelievable.”
She has not seen any other school that has put in as much effort into Homecoming as MU, Ottolin said.
Senior Courtney Doll, the non-Greek member of the directors, traveled all the way from Sugarland, Texas, to study journalism at MU.
She spends about 20 hours a week as the producer of the Monday 5 p.m., Wednesday morning, and Friday 10 p.m. shows at KOMU/Channel 8.
Doll said that if she were to pursue a journalism career after graduation, she would like to be a field producer practicing investigative journalism.
“My dream job would absolutely be (to be) a producer at CNN,” Doll said. “I have so much respect for the way they run their newsroom and the way they are on top of breaking news.”
She also expressed interest in staying in Columbia to work for MU.
Doll is in charge of the parade, public relations and service committees.
The parade committee has been planning the Homecoming parade, which will take place downtown Saturday morning. Doll said attendees should expect participation from Columbia businesses, high school marching bands from around the state and state-level government officials.
“The parade is our chance to show a huge outpour of Mizzou pride and spirit before the Homecoming game,” Doll said.
Doll discussed how the parade will continue Mizzou traditions while making room for small changes from the previous parades.
“We try not to mess around with it too much because it is such a rich tradition,” Doll said.
Doll said her toughest challenge in the preparation process was balancing her work at KOMU with academics and the Steering Committee activities.
“But I think it is something we knew coming in, and we are so passionate for Homecoming that we’re willing to make it work and balance it out,” Doll said.
She also talked about her personal connection to Homecoming.
“Homecoming is important to me because it was one of the biggest shows of support I have seen from the Mizzou community as a whole,” she said. “It was the first time I recognized that this (university) is my family and this is where I belong.”