Leaving the house to go anywhere before the sun even thinks about coming up is a pretty depressing thing, and it’s rarely fun. This on the other hand was going to be an exciting day. I was headed to Auburn University, home of the Tigers, or Eagles, or both depending on who you ask. With a 7 a.m. flight waiting, I got on the road and was parked by 5:45 a.m. But it didn’t matter because I was headed East.
Thanks to the lady at the rental car counter in Atlanta, I had the joy of a free ‘upgrade’ (aka this was all they had). Sporting a brand new Ford Escape, I booked it down I-85.
I arrived in this college town shortly after 1 p.m. and quickly figured out that parking around the school is worse that one of Hitler’s farts. After a 30-minute adventure to find quarters, I lucked out and swiped a parallel spot. The day started immediately as I headed off to my first one-on-one meeting. I met with three officers and with former president Will Culpepper and his flowing blonde hair that even a girl would envy.
I soon found out that the campus is beautiful and got the chance to tour the new recreational center that reportedly cost the university a cool $50 million! Chump change right? Right. I stood at the famous Toomer’s Corner, visited the drug store of its namesake, and of course had to try their “famous” lemonade. I accompanied Treasurer Will Stout to Mamma G’s for dinner, another locally famous and “uniquely Auburn” restaurant.
After dinner, we made our way to the chapter room at a chapel just across the street from campus. The guys sang from a hymnal and harmonized like old Baptist choir men. It was pretty dang beautiful. My talk to the chapter was about living our lives with excellence and applying that to BYX, school, our relationships and other areas of life in which we invest ourselves.
Philippians 3:13 encourages us to not view this fraternity as ours, but as something the Lord has given us stewardship over, and Colossians 3:23 instructs us to work at whatever we do with all our heart, as working for the Lord, not for the approval of men. That’s how we are to approach this fraternity, pursuing excellence in every brotherhood event, every open party, every social and every service project.
After some encouragement and prayer, the pledges retired to their pledge meeting. We changed and headed off to an apartment of a few brothers. One of the guys had the hook-up and kept bringing us fresh cookies from an apartment down the hall.
Waking up on Tuesday at 7 a.m. felt like sleeping in after getting up at 4:30 a.m. the previous day. My day was filled with more officer meetings and exploration of campus, including where the old football field used to be, where Island Party was held last year when Green River Ordinance came and played as well as both the old and new fraternity house rows. During the course of meeting with the officers and a few alumni, I probably toured the campus grounds four or five times, with everyone showing me something I had not seen before.
One of the coolest parts of the day was running into Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall on campus. Andrew Bell and myself were walking along a sidewalk by the student center when we passed two tall, athletic looking people. About five steps past them, I turned to Bell and simply asked, “Hey, wasn’t that Nick Marshall?” and about as nonchalant as he could be about it, replied “Yeah, I guess it was.” As an avid fan of college football and all things sportsing, it became necessity to get a picture with him. Long story slightly shorter, he’s a nice guy who doesn’t look as much like Will Smith as he does with his helmet on.
The rest of the day was enjoyable, partly in thanks to the gorgeous weather we were having, as well as being able to spend time with a number of guys from the chapter. I had dinner with Zac Blackerby at Jim ‘N Nick’s, a BBQ place nearby. The ribs that were placed before me had more meat on them than Schwarzenegger and it was glorious.
The night continued on as we played some Super Smash Brothers, and by play I mean I got beat. These guys are pretty good. I was glad to get the chance to talk to a few guys interesting in running for different officer positions that night as well as the following morning.
Wednesday began with an Auburn favorite, Price’s BBQ. We had to arrive there by 7 a.m. in order to get seats. That should speak to how good the food is there. Over the next two and a half hours, I spent more quality time with several of the brothers before one final meeting with a member looking to run for office.
I had an hour-and-a-half drive ahead of me and was going to lose another going back into the Eastern Time zone (which is clearly better than all the others.) I headed out around 9:45 a.m. and made it to Atlanta just after noon to meet Chris Godfrey, who worked full-time for the National Staff for two-and-a-half years before stepping into a volunteer role. We grabbed a short lunch at Daddy D’z BBQ, where we caught up on life, BYX and everything in between before I had to run.
All in all, my first official visit to an SEC school was a resounding success, and I left excited for the future and what this Auburn BYX chapter can become.