Catamount Throwback starts new tradition, Rice declared first Nobility

Western recently celebrated Catamount Throwback, the theme for the 2022 Homecoming festivities. Catamount Throwback was marked by annual celebrations such as the homecoming carnival and parade, new events like a Thrift Store Prom, a new tradition, and a win over Wofford. 

This was the first year that a Catamount Noble was crowned at homecoming instead of the traditional king and queen. The shift to Catamount Nobility comes from legislation authored by Justin Walhart and passed by SGA’s 98th session. The legislation to declare one Nobility and runner-up aims to eliminate gender biases and offer this to all students who embody WCU’s values of integrity, respect, diversity, and engagement in university life, regardless of race, pronoun usage, or popularity. 

Walhart said the court represents “the campus to the best of their abilities.” 

Brandon Rice, a senior public relations major, was declared Catamount Noble with Rae Suber as the runner-up. Rice has been involved in the Academic Success Program, Pride of the Mountains, and Entourage where he has been able to show his personality and love for WCU. 

Rice said his involvement has offered many opportunities he would not have imagined, including meeting the musical group Black Violin and electric violinist Lindsey Stirling. Rice was also asked to play violin in the upcoming movie remake “The Color Purple”. 

“I encourage all students to get involved with something you’re interested in! You never know who is watching you and those moments can have such a positive effect on your life,” he said. Rice told The Carolinian some of these opportunities may not have been on the table without WCU allowing him to be himself. 

Rice is honored to represent the school as the first Noble. He feels blessed at the impacts WCU has had in his life. “To my family, friends, professors, supporters and everyone else I’ve met at WCU, I’m thankful for you. What an honor to represent this school,” Rice stated. 

Catamount Throwback was chosen for those who have not experienced a full WCU homecoming. Diane Swenson, assistant director of Campus Activities communications, said students may not have been able to celebrate a classic homecoming due to the pandemic and weather complications. This was the first homecoming parade since 2019. Both the 2021 parade and carnival were canceled due to rain, although the carnival was rescheduled and held during the spring. 

Throwback events included an All American Haunting and Thrift Store Prom, both hosted by Last Minute Productions. The haunting was a fun, spooky nod to Victorian times for Halloween. Swenson said, “Our students have also wanted a prom since so many missed out on theirs during the pandemic,” and Thrift Store Prom allowed students to wear vintage attire and attend a more-casual prom. 

Campus Activities will put out a call for potential themes for the 2023 homecoming early in the spring semester. There will be social media posts and an alert on Engage asking students to suggest themes.