by Nick England
SAU you say? That’s right, Southern Arkansas University. A small state school in, well, southern Arkansas that’s known for it’s criminal justice program, a talented baseball program and of course, those Muleriders. If you drive an hour east of Texarkana on Highway 82 you’ll roll into the town of Magnolia, Arkansas. There you’ll see a town square with a court house, some fine southern dining, and a movie theater. Throw in an extra helping of country bumpkins and you’ve found the home of SAU. Of course, when I rolled into town with our very own Jason Hoyt, there was a bit of a culture shock. However, when we met up with the men at Mule’s Cantina, the chicken fried steak and warm company made us feel right at home. We got to eat dinner with the men whom I had already met from a preliminary prospective visit I made with Nathan Miller in May. We were able to talk with them over some great cooking and sweet tea in a room they reserved for us in the restaurant. Afterwards, we took a picture in front of the court house before we went to see the campus.
Our stroll around their campus that night was nice. The weather had gotten cooler after it had just rained and there was a mist in the air. Our opportunity to walk off our dinner around campus and chat with the men was a nice close to the evening, or so we thought… Jason and I headed over to the Wesley with Chad, Alan and John their President, Pledge Captain and Treasurer. We walked in with the intention of shooting some pool, but little did these three men know that would not be the case as they would venture into a world anew. A world known to many as Jungle Pool. A game that ruled the Friday nights of an elite group of men in Norman, Oklahoma. For the first time this little town experienced the awesomeness that is, Jungle Pool.
Jason and I went to our hotel after that to check Inn at our hotel which claims Quality as it’s tag line. However, it was a much different experience as we were in a non-smoking room tainted with the smell of Marlboro in addition to an air conditioner which was about as powerful as a mouse fart. Needless to say, our stay there was sub par.
After a stuffy and smelly night’s sleep, we began our training of the officers for the day. Each session went very well and they had some great questions as Jason spent time training them on their specific position and I spent time getting to know them. For lunch we went to Miller’s Cafeteria which is like a podunk Luby’s where you can hang out with the geriatric crowd and stuff your face for a shady 4 dollars. When all of the training was over, we met a bunch of the men for dinner at Backyard Bar-B-Que, the best barbecue joint in town. Afterwards, we went to the Wesley to run through our hazing policy and constitution with all of the officers. They asked some great questions again and we got to see the wheels turn some more as they latched on the vision of BYX even more. We said our goodbyes and thanked them for a great visit and then drove back to our “hotel” to go to “sleep”. At one point, I actually woke up because a beetle was crawling on my neck. I grabbed it and threw it across the room and lay awake with the feeling of bugs crawling on me the rest of the night. It would be the last night I stayed in that hotel.
The next day, Jason and I had breakfast at McDonald’s with one of the officers over some good conversation. We learned about police cars and a thing or two about bow hunting. Then Jason and I hit the road for a four and half hour drive back home.
Overall, our trip was great. For all of the flack and jokes Arkansas catches, we had a great visit. It’s no news that we move at a fast pace in society, going from one thing to the next. With an iPhone grafted to our hands and our faces glued to a TV it’s easy to sprint through the day and find yourself in bed asking yourself, what happened? The pace in Magnolia is a little calmer, the people talk a little slower and they think a little simpler. But they care a lot more. You can’t rush through your day in town like that. It was a pleasure to teach these men how to do BYX and solidify the vision. But in the end we rolled out of that town learning a thing or two as well.