I’ve never been to Oklahoma before, but after living with fellow National Advisors and OU alumnus Zach Van Meter for the past six months, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into with the BYX chapter at OU. To a degree, I was right, had what happened been in small doses. Lucky for me, it wasn’t. Not even close.
I pulled into Norman, Oklahoma on a windy day in the low 60s. That’s perfect weather for layering if that’s what you’re into (see: Van Meter). I pulled up to the Madison Mansion about 4 in the afternoon where, at long last, I met Alec Brunson, president of the Kappa Chapter. We talked for a bit and then decided to explore campus a little. He gave me the guided tour through main campus, as well as the OU football stadium.
This guy just got engaged this past Sunday night too, so huge congratulations go out to him and his fiance, Emily!
After catching up with Alec, we made our way over to a local legend, Victoria’s Pasta, and had some of the best pesto chicken pasta to grace Norman. We were accompanied by Colson Files and Christian Reese, two officer-elects for 2015. Colson was in my breakout group at COR in August! It’s rewarding to see when leaders that Nationals has invested into go on to serve their chapters.
After dinner, I got to sit in on pledge class and watch the pledge trainers run an organized meeting where the pledges took their weekly quiz and were given their weekly challenge. This week was Mafia week, a ridiculously fun game that has an innate ability to frustrate even the most even-keeled person you know.
Chapter followed meeting, and tonight’s was special. For one, it was held on the bank of Lake Thunderbird. By the time we arrived, a fire had been started for the brothers to gather around. The bigs were then instructed to find their littles, take them off to the side alone and pray over them. The two weeks prior, the bigs followed by the littles respectively, had carried around a “burden board” that represented the struggles each pledge faces.
During this time, Alec played several worship songs on his guitar as the pairs prayed around the grounds. When a pair was finished, the pledge would come up to the fire and throw his board in, signifying the sanctification we have through Christ and His grace, like fire, that consumes our burdens when we lay them at His feet. This was something very similar to what my own chapter would do during one of our pledge ceremonies which made this all the more enjoyable to be a part of.
The next morning, I made my way down to Cafe Plaid, a coffee shop and deli. This is what I expected Norman to be. This is what Van Meter had prepared me for. Cafe Plaid has the reputation for being the most hipster place near the university, and I didn’t know that walking in. While a little overwhelming at first, its redeeming grace was the coffee. These super hipsters know how to make some bomb coffee.
My first meeting began at 9 a.m., and I stayed there until 5 p.m., meeting with every officer and officer-elect. The current officer corps has lived up to the high standard set by corps past and has the expectation for this next group of officers to raise the bar even more. What is encouraging is that each officer is confident that the new officer body will achieve this.
After I wrapped up my meetings, the officers and I reconvened for dinner at Ted’s for some pretty good steak fajitas. What needs to be said is that Kevin Choate loves Ted’s. It’s his favorite place to eat in Norman. The only downside about eating at Ted’s was seeing a Chuy’s out the window, home of the best jalapeño ranch known to man, and probably God too. You know, since he made it and all.
After we finished eating, we debated on where to have officer meeting, eventually settling on the IHOP just down the road. There we discussed the health and direction of the fraternity as well as the remaining events on the fraternity calendar. Encouraged by the night, we made our way back to the Madison Mansion before watching the BYX volleyball team throw down.
By the time I made it to the gym, it had started to pour down rain. Luckily, I had left my rain jacket at Alec’s house. Once inside, I witnessed one of the more intense IM volleyball games I’ve seen. Despite their spikes, blocks, dives and digs, the BYX team didn’t pull out the W that night but was able to pray with some of the other team’s players after the game. In victory and loss, sportsmanship like this is what is expected of BYX men.
After the long day, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I’ve never slept better on a couch than I did that night. This was great because breakfast the next day was early but totally worth it. Syrup, another Norman tradition, hosted us this morning as we were served by none other than Alec Brunson. After breakfast wrapped up, I thanked the guys for a great first trip up to Norman, dropped Layne off at class, and made one last trip to Cafe Plaid before getting back on the road.