Homecoming spotlight on Athletics

Several NIU teams are ready to play for students and alumni alike over Homecoming weekend

Fans+cheer+on+the+NIU+football+team+on+Sept.+25+at+Huskie+Stadium.

Sean Reed | Northern Star

Fans cheer on the NIU football team on Sept. 25 at Huskie Stadium.

Carlos Finney Jr., Sports Reporter

DeKALB — After a full year without homecoming because of COVID-19, homecoming has returned on campus at NIU with a week full of sporting events that consists of four games among three different teams this week. 

The volleyball team kicks off the homecoming games at NIU when they face the Eastern Michigan University Eagles at 6 p.m. Friday. Then, the Huskies face the Eagles again at home at 6 p.m. Saturday. NIU looks to pick up their second and third conference wins in front of their home fans.

After an unusual spring competition season in 2021, head volleyball coach Ray Gooden is excited to be back in the team’s normal fall slot.

“For us to play in the fall is what we’re used to,” Gooden said. “Playing in front of our families and friends is another thing that we’re used to. It is just really nice for us to be able to play in front of our home fans again.” 

The NIU women’s soccer team will play at the end of homecoming week at 2 p.m. on Sunday against Eastern Michigan at home as they look to pick up a conference win. 

Away from campus, NIU men’s golf will host the Rich Harvest Intercollegiate at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. The three-day tournament begins Saturday and concludes Monday. 

This year’s playing of the tournament will see NIU take on schools from the Big Ten Conference such as the Universities of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska along with schools from across the college golf landscape.

NIU football will also face off against Eastern Michigan at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Eastern Michigan is coming off a dominant win against Texas State University, defeating them with a score of 59-21 to improve to a record of 3-1. NIU is coming off a big win of their own, beating Maine University with a score of 41-14 to move to a .500 record of 2-2. 

Both teams come into the game looking to claim their first conference win of the season. As Eastern Michigan comes into hostile territory, they will also have to deal with the added intensity that Huskie fans and players will bring because of homecoming week at NIU. 

Head football coach Thomas Hammock said the Homecoming game is a great motivator for his team ahead of their first conference opponent.

“What I told our players is, ‘Homecoming is always better when you win,’” Hammock said. “Our goal is to win, and then you can enjoy homecoming afterwards. We’re going to focus on the two teams on the field.”

Hammock himself was a student-athlete at NIU, playing running back for the Huskies during his time in school. The memories of homecoming Hammock remembers best were when his team won, Hammock said.

“I don’t remember much; I just remember when we won, it was a lot more fun,” Hammock said. “When you win the game, homecoming is a lot of fun.”

You can find more information on homecoming week events and the sporting events that will take place on the official NIU website.