Sara Patterson is from Wylie, Texas and is a senior Christian Studies major with minors in English and Communications at Ouachita Baptist University.
Ouachita Baptist University hosted its annual Homecoming weekend Friday, October 1 and Saturday, October 2. The weekend featured the crowning of this year’s Homecoming queen, the Homecoming football game against Northwestern Oklahoma State and multiple showings of the school’s annual fundraising production, Tiger Tunes.
COVID-19 protocols modified this year’s weekend of Tiger Tunes performances. Rather than hosting a full crowd in Jones Performing Arts Center, The Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF) opted for half-capacity seating. To provide more opportunities to see the show, OSF added a second show on Friday evening. The 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday showings of Tiger Tunes welcomed many alumni home for the weekend. The next morning, Homecoming festivities took place at Cliff Harris Stadium.
At the Homecoming pregame, Student Senate presented the top 20 nominees for Homecoming queen on the football field. Erica Dixon, a senior graphic design major, won the title. An Arkadelphia local, Dixon represented her social club, The Women of Tri Chi, where she serves as fall president.
“I did not know what was going to happen with the crowning because I felt like everyone on that field would rightfully deserve the crown. So, when Dr. Motl paused that long before he said the queen, my heart was beating super-fast. I can still picture the moment he said my name because it was just very shocking. I could hear all of my friends in the crowd yelling for me and that was a special moment,” Dixon said.
Dixon found herself especially grateful as she reflected on her family’s legacy at Ouachita. Dixon’s parents, David and Dana Dixon, met at Ouachita. Dixon’s late grandfather, Bill Dixon, served on faculty at Ouachita for many years. Dixon and her three sisters grew up spending time on campus with their grandparents and eventually all attended school at Ouachita. “The moment is made even more special by the fact that I grew up on campus. I spent summers here, my grandma lives right down the street and my grandpa served as dean of students here,” Dixon said.
Once the Homecoming queen was crowned, the football game began. The Ouachita Tigers beat the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers 64-17. This marks the Tigers’ fourth win of the 2021 season.
Later that evening, students performed in the last two Tiger Tunes shows of the weekend. The Saturday late show was livestreamed for those who were unable to attend in person. To make up for scholarship funds that would be lost as a result of tickets being sold at half-capacity, OSF leadership and mass communications faculty decided to monetize the livestream.
Brad Pierce, a mass communications professor specializing in visual media, was a key player in planning and producing this year’s livestream.
“There was a lot of conversation that had to happen within the faculty and staff for Tunes to decide on how much that should be. We collectively decided that $25 was a good deal. We would be able to contribute to Tiger Tunes funds and provide a great service to our alumni,” Pierce said.
The livestream alone raised over $10,000 for student scholarships, which suggests that about 350 individuals bought the livestream access.
Pierce and his team of students entered what felt like uncharted territory as they prepared for the livestream. This is Pierce’s first year teaching at Ouachita, and many of the students on his team have not been involved in a live Tiger Tunes show, as the last one took place in 2019.
“This being the first year for me to do this broadcast for the university, I had to get familiar with our equipment. We did have a bit of equipment in JPAC (Jones Performing Arts Center) to help us facilitate this, but it had not been used in two years. Because of COVID, there just hasn’t been a lot happening. We had to make sure all of that was on and going to function,” Pierce said.
Pierce values the unique opportunity he has to help students exercise and refine their media skills in practical contexts with real risks. While Pierce headed up much of the prep work, his students were the ones working the cameras Saturday night.
“One of the things I love about this department here at Ouachita is the opportunity for students to have hands-on learning and get to be engaged with real projects from the very beginning of their Ouachita experience,” Pierce said.
Because of Pierce and his student workers, hundreds of viewers watched the hosts and hostesses, the club performances and the presentation of the final awards in real-time. The award for first place went to The Women of EEE, second place went to Campus Ministries, third place went to The Men of Beta Beta and fourth place went to Student Life.
The Tiger Tunes livestream will be posted as a video at no cost to view later this week. The video will be hosted on The Signal website, Ouachita’s online newspaper, at www.obusignal.com/tunes.