By Nick England
Every time I venture out to visit the BYX chapter at the University of Florida, people tend to get jealous. They operate under the inaccurate stereo-type that Gainesville is filled with luscious palm trees, immaculate white sandy beaches and everyone sips on an icy cold beverage with a small umbrella. This fantasy could not be further from the truth. There may be palm trees, yes, but Gainesville is a college town filled with rednecks and hippies and it is about as far from the ocean as one can get in the only state that is also a peninsula. It also happens to be further from any major airport in Florida, which means I flew into Tampa then drove to Gainesville, a fun filled two-hour drive. Once I arrived, chaplain Dean Tzobanakis (if you actually try to pronounce his last name, your tongue might fall off) picked me up from the airport and we made the trek together up to Gainesville. It was great to catch up with Dean on the drive. We had a chance to talk about life, cell groups, Will Muschamp and other oddities. Once we arrived, they tried to take me to Steak and Shake to which I exclaimed that I refuse to come all the way to Gainesville and eat at a restaurant I can visit in Fort Worth. Thus we changed our plans and ate at Leonardo’s Pizza (no relation to the Renaissance artist/scientist or the turtle). We were joined by Tyler Linder, Colton Doll, Michael Keen, and Jacob Power. Afterward, I went back to Tyler and Dean’s apartment to hang out with them and play the lackluster Xbox Kinect. It was about as realistic as a Steven Seagal movie without the explosions.
The next day my first meeting was with pledge captain, Joshua Allen. We met up at Waffle House for very cheap waffles and good conversation. Joshua has done a great job with pledgeship at Florida. In large part, he has brought a great deal of innovation to the table. My next meeting was with RB Barrett who is Florida’s treasurer. Our conversation consisted of the finer things in life like Quickbooks and banks statements. Truly a conversation to be held only by those in the upper echelon of society. From there I met with Michael Keen, the current secretary of BYX. Michael is a man who understands BYX well and desires to see it grow into a thriving fraternity. He is certainly an asset to this officer corps. Later that day I went to lunch with Dean and Tyler at Gainesville’s signature restaurant, The Swamp. We had a great time at lunch together before going to hunt for gators. That’s right, I said gators. However, we weren’t able to capture any.
After meeting with Dean and Tyler, I got to meet with their vice president, Colton Doll. Colton and I talked a good bit about socials and Island Party to help propel BYX to the next level at Florida. From there, Colton dropped me off at pledge meeting so that I would have an opportunity to see how they are going first hand. I had a great time meeting some of the pledges and getting to know them. After pledge meeting, we moved straight into chapter meeting. This was my first time to address the men of BYX at UF as a chapter and I used the opportunity to challenge them to continue to push for growth numerically and socially. After chapter, I met with a few of the men and ate dinner with some of them at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s.
The following day, I had a chance to sleep in before I met Dean for lunch. He picked me up and we drove to Satchels for some great Gainesville pizza. And yes, we ate in a VW van.