When Bember asked me to write a blog encapsulating all I’d experienced this semester, I thought, “Sure, no problem.” And then I started thinking about it. Five months into 2014, I’ve traveled to 11 states, eaten a BBQ burrito, chartered a chapter, got a picture in an issue of Sports Illustrated and learned a lot of names. It’s been a whirlwind so far, but let me start from the top.
My year started on a high. Literally, like Rocky Mountain high. Twenty-four hours after celebrating the New Year with my parents in South Carolina, I was on a plane to Denver to join my brothers for Summit Ski Week 2014. This year, being another year more experienced on a snowboard, I had a much better time on the slopes, even busting onto the black diamonds with confidence.
During the BCS bowl games, we had brothers from opposing schools simultaneously sobbing and cheering. The highlight of the trip was when I set up KU President Trent Sanders to be ambushed by a horde of brothers with pillows in the conference room. He laughed, then chased me down the hall.
It wasn’t long after that that chapter visits started. First was the frozen tundra of Yale University. The snow-clad campus was mesmerizing, but really stinking cold. But that’s just how much I love the BYX men up there. They made the trip worth it with muffin, burgers and Hogwarts.
Next up was Baylor, where I got probably 28 minutes of sleep the whole weekend and had fun with M&Ms. This was also the weekend I got whipped at Smash Bros by brother Tyler Simmons’ fiancé. Kolaches are always a must on the way back from Waco and not two days later, I was on a plane to Louisiana.
The LSU Chapter has been working hard since their founding in 2008 and finally earned their charter. It was a joyous visit, as alumni, brothers and staff all came together to crystallize the chapter’s permanence. I spent those few days marveling at the high fitness level of the student body considering what magnificent food was right at their fingertips. And in the case of beignets, which we got our fill of multiple times, they’re a magnificent food all over your fingertips. I ordered crawfish etouffee for two separate meals at the same restaurant with pride. I guess this is how President Alex Yount feels about Taco Bell. Oh well.
The following week I was in Mississippi, where they like Coca Cola and gravy. Graceland Too was an attraction (I use the word attraction loosely) I’d heard about, but never experienced. Not until this semester’s adventure. I had the privilege of touring a rather enthusiastic Elvis fan’s home/temple at 2 a.m. Thanks to the Ole Miss gentlemen for supplying the opportunity to have such a poignant experience seeing every piece of Elvis memorabilia ever produced.
My tour de The South was pleasant and temperate, but short-lived, and I would soon, begrudgingly, see snow again. The week after I got back from Ole Miss, I visited Kansas, Oklahoma State and Central Oklahoma. Why was there still snow on the ground in early March in any of those places? Because they’re not Florida. But I still had a heck of a time at all three campuses.
At KU, I got to feel the electricity of Allen Fieldhouse on the night that they clinched their tenth straight Big XII title. One of the pictures of the BYX guys and me even made it into Sports Illustrated that month. The visit was characterized by BBQ, cold, basketball and an awesome group of guys I didn’t want to leave.
With OSU, I got really tight with the brothers as I joined in on their chapter retreat and shenanigans at the arcade. I bonded especially with brother Aaron McCormick over a frigid hour-long drive from Tulsa to Stillwater with a shattered car window.
From Stillwater to Edmond, the weather improved and the brotherhood kept on a-coming. The UCO guys treated me to an evening at the trampoline park, which I learned is not ideal for someone with lower back issues. The rest of that visit consisted of broing out, drinking soda from Pops and “facing the gauntlet,” which is what they called Smash Bros time because nobody could beat me, and I’m not terribly proud of that.
I had a few days before I got to see my brothers at Southern Arkansas University. I got to watch these boys take home first in Greek Week’s Lip Sync, and I enjoyed some good old southern food while I was there. Between this trip and my final visit of the semester, I had about 3 weeks of being grounded in Texas. What was I to do?
Fortunately for me, the boys from Ole Miss and KU needed a chaperone for their joint formal in Branson, Missouri at the end of March. I gladly obliged for one more opportunity to get goofy with those fellas. The formal was a blast (I even got to crowd surf), the venue was breathtaking and they let me bring a pretty girl with me, but I don’t think I can justify venturing back to the retirement community of Branson until I’m at least 90. One thing I learned is that if you want to really get to know who a person is, watch them work with dial-up or drive with them in Branson.
Finally, I concluded my travel schedule with a hop over to good old Knoxville, where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. These guys are always a hoot and they make dang sure I’m provided for every time I’m in town. I got to play basketball where the Vols practice and watch the spring football game. I ate a BBQ burrito and learned the peculiar language of Vols BYX. It was a perfect cap to a semester full of excitement.
In the end, I feel like I just wrote my own version of The Odyssey, having traveled about 15,000 total miles. I went some wild places and saw some nutty things. Heck, I even got to go head-to-head with some of the older BYX guys at Board Meeting a few weeks ago. I’m blessed to be able to train and instruct college men around the country as an occupation for now and have a little fun in between. Here’s to a summer of prep for another year of being a BYX national advisor!