A long lasting tradition at Northwest is Family Weekend. This year’s Family Weekend was canceled due to COVID-19.
Usually on Family Weekend, there is a football game and activities to do for the students’ families. This year, with COVID-19, all MIAA fall sports were suspended, effectively leading to the cancellation of Family Weekend events.
“Yes, it’s disappointing, but I get it,” Northwest Director of Athletics Andy Peterson said. “When you have a home football game, it brings a lot of people to the area. It’s disappointing, but bringing that many people together exposes people to everything going on right now.”
Family Weekend brings lots of people to campus and, traditionally, creates a buzz around Maryville in anticipation for the weekend's events. Despite being canceled this year, students and their families are hoping to see the festivities return in 2021.
“Campus is buzzing; it is usually the first home game of the year,” Peterson said. “The students get to show their parents what their college experiences are like. It’s more about visiting and catching up. It’s family; it’s in the name.”
Along with being a big deal to students and the athletic department, it is important to the Northwest football players as well. It has a bigger meaning behind it for them and the coaching staff than just a normal game.
To the football program, Family Weekend is also a weekend to honor the late coach Scott Bostwick. Bostwick was the defensive coordinator at Northwest for 17 years. He was officially named head coach in December 2010.
As a surprise for the players, Bostwick was in the works of having black uniforms made for the 2011 season. After finally getting the OK to do so, the coaching staff kept it a secret from the players.
Bostwick died in June before ever getting to coach in his first game at the helm of the program. Now, the Bearcats remember him every Family Weekend by wearing all black uniforms.
“It is tradition,” Peterson said. “It has been around for a long time, and it speaks to how much it means to the football program and the school as well.”
This is a chance for the players to play in front of their parents and showcase what they are doing and have learned throughout their entire offseason.
“The players love this weekend and love the tradition,” Northwest football linebacker Jackson Barnes said. “I definitely think this tradition should continue forever. Northwest as a community is a big deal; family is a huge tradition in this community. It should continue because of how big of a deal it is to everyone in this community.”
“The atmosphere is just different on Family Weekend,” Barnes said. “We aren’t just playing for ourselves out there that weekend, we are playing for the community, for our parents, for our family.”
The football game on Family Weekend historically is one that brings in a larger group of fans than most other games. And without a draw to campus for families, some people won't get the opportunity to see relatives.
“As a university, we have to realize it is more than just sports that matter,” Peterson said. “So, we understand it.”