Jimmy King, Jack Harbaugh join students and alumni at first homecoming pep rally

Sunday, October 23, 2016 - 1:58pm

The captains of the Michigan football team and women’s basketball team, as well as former men’s basketball Fab Five member Jimmy King, were among those present at the first-ever Maizefest Homecoming Pep Rally Friday evening on the Diag.

The crowd, made up of alumni, students and athletic staff, cheered and celebrated before the homecoming game against the University of Illinois, and went wild when the parents of head football coach Jim Harbaugh appeared on stage.

Celebrating their Wolverine pride, they chanted, “Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”

The festivities, which also featured appearances by student performance groups, fraternities, athletes and famous alumni, were hosted by the Michigan Spirit Association and sponsored by Central Student Government, the Alumni Association and the Athletic Department, among others.

Featured performances included the percussion group Groove, the a cappella groups G-Men and Amazin’ Blue, the diabolo team Revolution Chinese Yoyo and a presentation by the Bicentennial Advisory Committee.

MSA vice president Cameron Dotson, a Kinesiology senior, said the idea for the pep rally came after meeting with various students during last year’s CSG election, when he ran as the vice presidential nominee for the Your Michigan party.

During the campaign, Dotson said he discovered how aspects of campus like a new football coach and a revitalized athletic program helped instill a great deal of school spirit among students, making him want to create a way for students from diverse student organizations and backgrounds to come together in their passion for the University.

“I really wanted to bring something to the University, to get people excited and bring something that would last on campus for years to come,” Dotson said.

Many alumni present at the pep rally, such as alum John Varterasian, a Birmingham resident, said they were surprised by the increase in different types of student organizations.

“They have a lot of different groups, different variety and lot of groups as alumni I really didn’t know existed,” Varterasian said. “So I thought it was pretty informative and entertaining as well.”

Other alumni, most of them recent graduates, were excited to see the groups they formerly belonged to perform onstage. Alum Ryan Bruder, an Ann Arbor resident and former Dance Marathon member, said watching the performances was a good way to reconnect with what the student group has been up to.

“For me coming back it’s good to get an update where people have been and where they’re going,” Bruder said.

Engineering junior Akshaya Rajkumar, Michigan Bhangra Team co-captain, said she appreciated how the event brought even the smallest of student organizations on the stage.

“I think it really shows how diverse our campus is,” Rajkumar said. “We’re a very small Indian dance team on campus so it’s really nice to be recognized in such a big platform.”