Homecoming brings positive memories, sense of purpose to Missouri football

Redshirt sophomore Jonah Dubinski: “It’s really cool because people I knew growing up or distant relatives would always come into town for Homecoming and now they get to come and watch me”
Offensive lineman Kevin Pendleton plays in Missouri's 2016 season opener against West Virginia. Courtesy of Mizzou Athletics

There are few Saturdays more meaningful in Columbia than Homecoming. The parade, fans coming back into town, the celebrations of tradition and the football game combine to make the day one of the busiest and most exciting of the year.

But for a few Missouri football players, the festivities surrounding Homecoming are even more significant.

Redshirt sophomore Jonah Dubinksi, who grew up in Columbia and attended Rock Bridge High School, said Homecoming always brings back memories of his childhood.

“When you’re a kid, every Saturday at Faurot [Field] is something really special,” Dubinski said. “But [Homecoming] was pretty cool. I went to the parade growing up.”

Redshirt junior Paul Adams said that although he didn’t attend Homecoming festivities as a child, he’s grown to appreciate Homecoming week as a student.

“Every year since I’ve been here in college, it’s been a really fun week,” Adams said. “You can see the joy on campus, whether it’s the fraternities or sororities. There’s a lot of life here [during Homecoming]; there’s a lot of pride.”

Many of the players commented on how much they enjoy seeing alumni of the program come back for Homecoming. Redshirt junior Kevin Pendleton said there’s extra motivation on Homecoming to play well in front of the alumni.

“It’s just always special whenever guys come back, guys who laid the foundation of what this program is and what it needs to be,” Pendleton said. “So whenever we get the chance to pay respect to them, show them what we’re doing to respect them and give them a show, it means a lot to us. We’re just glad whenever alumni can come back and have a sense of pride in this program.”

Junior quarterback Drew Lock agreed with Pendleton and said that he also looks forward to seeing alumni coming back into town, especially players he grew up watching as a young fan from Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

“A lot of people come back; that’s probably the coolest part about it,” Lock said. “A lot of guys that you once watched play come back and watch you play, which makes it kind of a cool game for all of us.”

Dubinski said he’s looking forward to having alumni and family alike watch him play and continue a family tradition.

“I had a ton of relatives that went here and they all came home for one Mizzou game a year, and I guess that would be Homecoming,” Dubinski said. “It’s really cool because people I knew growing up or distant relatives would always come into town for Homecoming, and now they get to come and watch me.”

Pendleton echoed Dubinski’s excitement about seeing family.

“Any chance I get, I have family coming in,” Pendleton said. “They’re only an hour and a half, two hours away, so I’ll have a pretty big pool of people out here. I’ll get to see my grandma, so that’s always fun.”

Dubinski and Adams both mentioned that Missouri having the first homecoming in the country makes it extra special. But at the end of the day, the team’s objective is to be ready for Idaho.

“Anyone that’s the first to do anything, it’s got to be pretty cool,” Dubinski said. “But with the festivities, you just kind of put it out of your mind and it’s just another game where you gotta go get ready to play.”

Pendleton said the team’s mindset going into Homecoming is simple.

“Football is a game where we enjoy playing it and we put on a show for our fans and our families,” Pendleton said. “So whenever they get a chance to come out and see us and have a good time, we have a sense of pride in that. We’re looking forward to making some memories Saturday morning and afternoon.”

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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