Traditions don't happen overnight. They must be cultivated over time.
Such is the goal for the Point Park Athletics Alumni Weekend, which was initiated in 2010 as part of the University's 50th anniversary celebration and has now been held for four consecutive years. The 2014 event took place September 26-28 in Pittsburgh.
The annual celebration gives the University's athletics alumni a chance to reconnect with former teammates and coaches, a chance to relive their playing days on the field, and an opportunity to honor the newest inductees to the Pioneer Athletics Hall of Fame.
Weekend activities include the Point Park Athletics Golf Outing, alumni reunion games and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. And new for the 2014 event was Pioneers alumni participation in The City of Pittsburgh Great Race, followed by a reception.
The Athletics Alumni Weekend has gained momentum over the past four years, thanks to the participation of alumni who have a great time reuniting with fellow athletes and reconnecting to their alma mater.
According to Director of Athletics Dan Swalga, the event's mission is clear. "It's a celebration of Pioneers athletics and an opportunity for us to reconnect," said Swalga. "In terms of relationships with our sports alums, it's highly important for athletic departments to do that, and we had a decade or two where there wasn't much outreach.
"[We want] to reopen and continue some of those relationships. Also, it allows our recent alums to make sure that they understand that they have a home here after they graduate."
Many who attended the 2014 reunion shared positive feelings about their experiences at Point Park, as well as an interest in continued support.
"The sports teams provide a connection to the University for our athletics alums," said Swalga. "The memories that are created, the successes and failures, and the social aspect of being on the team -- all elevate the feeling and passion that they have for Point Park.
The alumni weekend kicked off with the Athletics Golf Outing on Friday at Hickory Heights Golf Club in Bridgeville, Pa., which is owned by men's golf alumnus and Hall of Fame Class of 2010 inductee Sam Depe, III.
"I think [the golf outing] was a great kickoff to the alumni weekend," said Point Park volleyball coach Mike Bruno. "A lot of alums participated in the golf outing. It's a very fun, affordable event with many great prizes and amenities. [It's] the kickoff to a good weekend of camaraderie within the department and with our alumni."
Saturday offered a range of alumni games, including baseball, softball, volleyball and men's and women's soccer. Alumni get back on the playing field or court for friendly games with fellow alumni and current student-athletes. A catered lunch follows the games.
Alumna Sara Guffey, who played softball from 2010-13, said she enjoyed the softball alumni game and appreciates the effort Point Park makes to foster alumni involvement.
"It was really great seeing everybody on alumni weekend," Guffey said. "Over the four years that I spent at Point Park, the girls that I spent my nights and weekends traveling and practicing with became sort of a makeshift family.
"Getting to see and play with everyone again, although only for one day, was awesome and something that we all look forward to every year."
The weekend culminated with the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at a formal dinner in the Lawrence Hall Ballroom. The 2014 Hall of Fame inductees were Dennis Colamarino (Baseball 1987-89), Gavin Prosser (Men's Basketball 2004-07) and Beth Wertz-Brubach (Women's Basketball and Softball 1984-87).
"It's great to see to emotion and passion that the Hall of Fame inductees have for Point Park," said Swalga. "Their enthusiasm contributes to the success of that event, and it really means a lot to them and to us as well. It's such a good feeling."
Text by Zachary Weiss, Point Park's athletic communications student assistant for 2014-15
Photo by Kevin Taylor, director of athletics communications
The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University