By Laura McCaffrey
The Road Back Home
In the fall of 2013, following vocal feedback from the Carleton community over the course of 15 years, the Carleton football team came back to its home field. The team had been on a hiatus since 1998 when, to the dismay of hundreds of Carleton football alumni, the program was disbanded.
The 2013 reinstatement of the program was possible in large part due to the generosity of the team’s biggest supporters, including Carleton football alumni—the Old Crows—like John Ruddy. Ruddy, who is a former Ravens cornerback, was instrumental in the team’s revival through his multimillion-dollar donation in 2008—a donation that spurred on additional fundraising from other dedicated Old Crows.
“We knew we had to re-establish the team on campus quickly, in order to honour the contributions that had been made to bring us back,” says Coach Steve Sumarah.
The team needed to show why it was an integral part of the fabric of the university—why it mattered, and why people should care. It needed to show its donors and allies that supporting the team meant supporting something much bigger. It was about making noise on campus. It was about school spirit. And more than anything, it was about giving back.
Smells Like Raven Spirit
The buzz from the football team’s imminent revival was felt on campus almost immediately and ultimately led to the return of Carleton’s homecoming in 2013.
“Throwback, Carleton’s reimagined homecoming celebration, includes reunions with old classmates, keynote speeches from prominent alumni, campus tours and formal dinners. But the football game and family-friendly pre-game activities are always a highlight,” explains Mark Savenkoff, director of alumni and donor relations. “Now boasting dozens of events, there is something for everyone. All members of the Carleton community are proud to show their Ravens spirit.”
The sentiments of engagement and connectedness that were palpable among the Carleton community at the first Throwback quickly spread to the larger Ottawa community when the Panda Game was re-established. The Panda Game was an old Ottawa tradition that existed prior to the Carleton team’s demise. The Carleton – University of Ottawa rivalry game came back into existence in 2013 and reignited a sense of friendly competition, school spirit and community among the two teams and Ottawa residents.