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Homecoming hindsight — a look back at App State in 1972 and 2002

Last Updated on November 23, 2022 7:41 pm

BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University celebrated Homecoming week Oct. 24–29 with an abundance of festivities for students, alumni and community members, and the classes of 1972 and 2002 were invited back to campus for special recognition.

“To see all that has changed since I was first at App is crazy,” said Trent Arrowood, a 2002 alumnus with degrees in management and political science. “Getting to come back and see how campus has continued to transform over the past 20 years is incredibly interesting, and to see how the Master Plan has all come together is really cool.”

The history books show that App State, along with the entire country, has experienced significant cultural changes over the decades as well.

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A crowd gathers in downtown Boone to watch the 1972 App State Homecoming Parade. Photo courtesy of the Appalachian State University Historical Photographs Collection
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A group of App State alumni order food in Welborn Cafeteria during the Alumni Association luncheon at Homecoming in 1972. Photo courtesy of the Appalachian State University Historical Photographs Collection


Step back in time 50 years. People were blasting “American Pie” by Don McLean from their Volkswagen Beetles, wearing bell-bottoms and patterned shirts and sporting long, wavy hair. “Hawaii Five-O” was on the TV at home, “The Godfather” was blowing up on the big screen and kids were hitting the arcade to play a round of Pong. In the news, the Vietnam War dragged on, the Watergate scandal was beginning to unfold and NASA was set to launch Apollo 16 to the moon.

At App State, the 1972 enrollment was just under 8,000 students, and some of them lived in Watauga Hall — the university’s first co-ed dormitory.

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An App State student sits outside the former Belk Library building (now known as Anne Belk Hall) in 1972. Photo courtesy of the Appalachian State University Historical Photographs Collection

The university offered new degrees in technology and health education, and new courses such as Women in History. The Student Senate appointed first-year student Judy Gentry to the Homecoming Court, making her the first African American woman to be on any honorary court at App State.

Many memorable entertainment events also took place on campus, with one of the major highlights being a Beach Boys concert.

There were talks in 1972 that the university was planning to change its name to UNC-Boone, but of course, history has proven that the name never stuck.

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App State alumnus Trent Arrowood ’02, front, center, sits on the field at Kidd Brewer Stadium with his fellow Appalachian Ambassadors after painting Yosef’s footprints on Stadium Drive for the football season. Photo submitted
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A shot of App State alumnus Trent Arrowood’s Doughton Residence Hall room in 1998. Arrowood attended App State from 1998 to 2002. Photo submitted


Jump ahead to 2002, when millions were still looking forward to seeing their “Friends” — Ross, Chandler, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey and Monica — on Thursday nights. “Spider-Man” was the must-see movie of the summer, along with a pair of high-profile sequels — “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”

The boy bands of the late ’90s were eclipsed in popularity by rap, country and alternative rock artists, with music fans pressing the play button on everything from Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” to Ashanti’s “Foolish” on their brand new iPods.

In the news, the nation was still reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks a year earlier, and the two-decade war in Afghanistan was in its early days. Kmart filed for bankruptcy, and across the pond, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee.

In 2002, App State’s enrollment was up to around 14,000 students, making the completion of the Rivers Street Parking Deck and the Living Learning Residence Hall welcome additions.

Students had some new perks to enjoy, such as the opening of the new movie theater in the Plemmons Student Union. Students also had some new things to complain about, as 2002 was the first year that computer labs began charging printing fees of 3 cents per page.

“When I was there it was like the beginning of the transformation,” said Arrowood. “At that time, a lot of the building had commenced. We had two different computer labs and the Macs were just taking off. Most students didn’t have laptops back then, and we had the Motorola (flip) phones, but you could see things starting to change.”

One thing that hasn’t changed, Arrowood says, is the App State Community.

“It’s the people who make Appalachian,” said Arrowood. “This is a unique and special place, and it’s something that is not easily replicated. I know it sounds cliche, but the things that I learned while I was there shaped me into the person I am today.”

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App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, far left, crowns Makenzie Pucci, center, as this year’s Top of the Rock student. Pucci is a senior special education major from Lexington. Photo by Kyla Willoughby


This year, the Homecoming festivities began on Monday, Oct. 24, with the Homecoming Kickoff Party on Sanford Mall. Partygoers got into the Mountaineer spirit with a fun night of inflatables, food, games and more.

“I always enjoy seeing the App State Community — representing our past, present and future — coming together. Welcome home, Mountaineers!” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts.

This year’s kickoff party included a service component, where students raised funds and donated winter clothing and blankets to members of the local community while also raising awareness about homelessness in the area.

The theme for this year’s Homecoming was “App2K,” with most events inspired by the 2000s, including the App2K Arcade Day, App2K Club Night and App2K Lip Sync Battle.

Other signature events held throughout the week included the following:

  • Homecoming Parade.
  • APPtoberfest celebration and pep rally.
  • Homecoming Band Spectacular.
  • Alumni and Friends Breakfast.
  • Denim and White Party hosted by the African American Alumni Network.
  • Dr. Willie C. Fleming Scholarship Recognition Reception.
  • Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Dinner for the 2022–23 season.
  • Mountaineer Meetup: Homecoming Edition.
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App State Chancellor Sheri Everts, second from right, with 1970s App State African American alumni at the 2022 Alumni and Friends Homecoming Breakfast. Photo by Chase Reynolds
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App State students perform at the annual Lip Sync Battle during Homecoming week 2022. Photo by Chase Reynolds

The grand marshals for the parade this year were Jerry Moore — who served as the Mountaineer head football coach from 1989 to 2012 — and former Mountaineer quarterback and 2009 graduate Armanti Edwards.

The App State football team did not disappoint its fans during the finale event, securing its eighth consecutive Homecoming win with a 42–3 victory over Robert Morris University on Saturday, Oct. 29.

During the game, members of the App State Class of 1972 were recognized, as were the members of the 2022 Homecoming Court. Makenzie Pucci — a senior special education major from Lexington, representing Alpha Phi — was recognized as this year’s Top of the Rock student for her outstanding achievements and contributions to the university.

Following the game, the Homecoming celebration concluded with the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Step Show and the Homecoming After Party hosted by the African American Alumni Network.

“Thank you to the teams in Student Affairs and Alumni Affairs for working together to present a terrific week of events for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the broader community,” said Everts.

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