Man, what a ride…After almost 12 ridiculously fun years as either a student or employee, this is my last week at NSU. It started back in in the Fall of 2001, before things like Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and even text messaging existed. No one had cell phone service in Tahlequah on our old Nokia brick phones, and gas was less than $1.50 a gallon (I kid you not). This was when the old science building was old, before the cafe was all-you-can-eat (those were the days), and of course, we were the Redmen.
I am trying to come up with my Top 10 NSU Moments, which is almost impossible to do, and it has generated some great stories from my friends. Some of the things I either forgot or accidentally left off from my Honorable Mention list:
- Matt Eaton and JR Watts getting into a Karate fight at Sessions in the Dark in ’04
- Random Nights at my house in Wheeler Edition with Brandon, Kyle, JR, Dustin, and many others.
- Watching Carrie Underwood win American Idol
- Great times in The Northeastern Newspaper office with Dana telling stories about Aaron Lee and Eric Bradley.
- Getting almost arrested for sliding down the stadium steps in a sled with Scotty, Danny, and Savanner
- The Sidewalk Chalk Bandits (This may deserve its own post if Scotty has the pics)
- The night in the Rock House when the drunk/high guy came in started putting quarters into the NBA Jam arcade game (that was the night Eaton peed into the LXA trough…which they still use)
- Burning Easy Mac my freshmen year and almost catching Leoser on fire.
I am sure many more will be brought to my attention as we retell these stories. Now we are headed to the Top 10 List…numbers 10-7. Some are actual moments, and some encompass many moments that would be hard to pinpoint the exact time and place the memory happened. I hope you enjoy and can add to my stories as we go along.
Alright, this post may get me fired, but I am about to leave so I don’t know if matters anyways. Those in power at NSU, forgive me. When I arrived on NSU’s campus as a slender and bright-eyed freshmen, I had heard about all of the underground campus legends who truly discovered this campus.
I am talking about those brave few who have navigated the steam tunnels. Those who found the underground pool in Jack Dobbins. The creative ones to find the underground passage into John Vaughn Library revealing the hidden shelves and the ladder to the roof. The crazy ones to find the attics in Wilson and Haskell. The very select few who have been fortunate to climb inside the Seminary Hall clock tower.
My goal was to find these passageways and to get on top of every building on campus. By my count, there are 90 buildings on the NSU campus (including Sequoyah’s head), and I ascended all but 4 of them. I still have Wyly, the Warehouse, Courtside Apartments, and Campus Police. I had a very solid plan of getting on top of Campus Police, but never executed it. My favorite moments during my expeditions include topping the practice dome, finally finding a way on top of the Library, and walking around on top of the Webb/Net Tower.
The best thing to happen to my Shenanigans was Ben Ellis, who was as passionate as I to find these places on campus. Our highlight, was of course, the time we got into the Seminary Hall Clock Tower. We were giddy like schoolgirls as we finally found the secret entrance. There is said to be a book describing all of the best way to climb buildings, and the secret passageways on campus hidden somewhere in the Library…your hint is Harry S. Truman. Good luck.
9. 2003 National Championship & Lonnie
I was fortunate to be on campus during the peak of NSU basketball. From 2001-2003, the Men’s Basketball team went 60-5 and won the National Title in 2003. I didn’t see NSU lose a home basketball game in my 5 years as a student. The Women’s team was also ridiculously good, and it seemed like Coach Gipson wouldn’t recruit a girl unless she was the prettiest player in the state. I have two great memories from those years packed into Jack Dobbin’s Fieldhouse:
1. Missing the Half Court Shot
It was during that beautiful ride of 2002-03 that Reasor’s started a half-court shot competition in between the men’s and women’s games. If you were lucky enough to have your name called, Reasor’s would give you $1000 dollars if you were able to make the shot. I put my name in the bucket every game, cause let’s be honest…I needed $1000. Then the day came, my name was drawn from the others to hit the shot.
The Lambda Chis standing on the baseline went nuts for me as I strolled onto the court. This was my moment, the gym was packed with thousands of my closest friends who were cheering me on! When I made it to half court, I was super nervous. This could change my college life!
The ball boy handed me a girl’s ball, and told me to shoot away. I requested a men’s ball, but they didn’t have one nearby, I would have to make do with what I was given. The crowd was chanting my name and the PA announcer was pumping up the crowd to build the energy amongst the fans. I am not the greatest athlete ever, but I did play high school basketball, and like any other white basketball kid, I had practiced the half court shot thousands of times over the years. On this day, I was hoping the practice would pay off.
I closed my eyes, said a short prayer, and then focused on my goal. Hit the shot…win $1,000. I locked in on the rim, took a couple of steps, and launched the ball. At that exact moment, the sweat from my nervousness and the awkwardness of the girl’s ball caused the ball to slip out of my hands. The basketball went really, really high into the gym, almost hitting the ceiling. Because it went so high, the ball did not go very far. It dropped down somewhere near the free throw line…if you are imagining this in your head, my shot went about 50 feet in the air and landed only about 15 feet from me. I didn’t even make it halfway to the basket.
The crowd fell silent for a few moments…I even heard an elderly woman gasp and a couple of babies cry during those quiet moments. Then it happened. The crowd went nuts with laughter. The fraternity guys jumped me at half court. The sorority girls shook their head in embarrassment. I could hear my ex-girlfriend laughing louder than everyone else. It ranks in my top 3 most embarrassing moments of all time, but it was a great memory none the less.
2. When Lonnie Forgot his Belt.
I mentioned earlier than NSU almost never lost a game at home, and I know why. Jack Dobbin’s Fieldhouse seats a modest 1,200 people, and can fit about 1,500 when it is packed to its gills. During these crazy days, it seemed we had 2,000 people bearing down on the court. During the 2003 season, we had a great team. We had the All-American John Shepard, the mean-mugging Darnell Henson, and of course, REGGGGGIIIIIEEEE-BATTTTTTTIIIIEEE.
We were ranked #3 in the country, and one of our losses was to stinking Tarleton State, who was ranked #1 in the country when they made the long trip to Tahlequah. Tarleton was great, and usually beat us in every sport. Those punks brought a lot of swagger into NSU. During warm-ups I sensed an electric atmosphere that will never forget.
On this particular night, the students were out in full force. We were allowed to stand directly on the baseline, right next to the visitor’s bench. I kid you not when I say we could have slapped the last five players on their bench during the game. Literally hundreds of students would dress in ridiculous outfits and the refs would have to push us aside to throw in the ball. We were nasty, crazy, and unbelievably loud.
Right before the game started I took a look around. Matt Eaton was in his typical superman outfit riding his tiny bicycle. Murr was Mr. Basketball, and I was his caped sidekick. Steve Jenks started dressed as a woman and ended up in duct-tape underwear. It was like any normal game, and then I looked behind me. People were standing at the double doors by the concessions ten-deep. People sat on the stairs to the old gym, even some standing in the gym. People were underneath the bleachers for crying out loud. I am pretty sure that we broke a few fire code laws, but oh well.
The game started off fast, and both teams were as good as advertised. We were getting all over the players until we noticed something strange about the Tarleton coach, Lonnie. He was wearing a really nice suit and tie, but for some reason he forgot his belt. Oh man, did we tell him about it. My old friend Danny Points was the first to pull off his belt and waive it at the coach as he chanted, “Lonnnnnn-ieeeeee, Lonnnnnn-ieeeeee!” This picked up steam, and before we knew the entire student section had their belts off waiving them at the coach as we chanted his name. After a couple of minutes the entire gym was screaming his name and waiving their belts.
I know if you interviewed those Tarleton players and especially the coach, they would tell you that we confused them. The players on the court started to turn the ball over and make mistakes. The coach made some poor substitutions, and NSU took control of the game. NSU won that game, became #1 in the country, and never looked back. After the game was over, Lonnie came over to us and congratulated us for a hard-fought win. Then he gave us back the 10 or so belts that had been given to him as we walked out of the gym after the game.
8. Shoe Ball and Septic Tanks
I had some random nights in college, much like any traditional college student, but nothing was a random or as fun as the nights Murr and I played shoe ball, and those awesome nights we rolled down the hill in a septic tank. Murr and I go way back. We went on the world’s worst double date, I dominated him in basketball at Dry Gulch, and he help convince me to join Lambda Chi Alpha. Our creativity and encouragement has helped grow the 20 Leadership Camps, and we have even been kicked out of Cuba together. Almost nothing beats our time playing shoe ball.
During the second semester of my freshmen year, I moved to the Lambda Chi floor in Hastings just down the hall from Murr. One day we were bored and decided to create a new game (I told you we have been doing it forever). All we had around were our shoes and a little rubber stress ball I had stolen from somewhere on campus. Hence, Shoe Ball was born.
We stood on opposite sides of the hallway and hit this ball back and forth with our shoes. We started creating rules, and became quite good. We spent many nights hitting that ball back and forth across the hallway as our dorm-mates laughed at us. Randy Eibenstein and Nate Allembaugh would get mad at us because their doors were the goals and they wanted us to sleep. It didn’t matter, because we had shoe ball and our conversations.
It was during this time that we built the foundation for our friendship that remains today. He challenges me in many ways and has helped me become the best version of me for over a decade. I owe a ton of my successes to Murr and of course…Shoe Ball.
That very next year some crazy people came to NSU. Scott Weatherman, Danny Points, Brandon Nickell, Thomas Sterling, Rickey Peaker and Matt Pack to name a few. These fun people happened to notice some locals (Tahlequah locals are the craziest) who were pushing an empty septic tank up the hill by the vo-tech on a snowy day. Apparently, the students at the vo-tech would practice burying this new septic tank and then unbury it as a part of their class. On snowy days, however, the locals would drag it to the top of the hill, get inside, and then roll back down the hill.
Before I met Scott and the crew, I would have never climbed into a septic tank. After I met them, I did all sorts of stuff that they did on Jackass. Scott convinced us all to meet at the top of the hill, duct-tape pillows to our head, and then roll down the hill. I have to admit, it ranks to this day as one of my favorite activities. It was deliriously fun…until the cops showed up. Luckily I was with some friends who knew how to talk to small-town cops, and we ended up being able to roll a few more times with the safety of a cop nearby. It was memories like this that will always stick with me…and college is the perfect time to try them out. What great memories we shared on that hill back in the Fall of 2002.
7. Getting Outstanding Male Senior
I had a crazy journey to graduation, and there will be more stories tomorrow that explain it more in detail, but getting Outstanding Male Senior at NSU is still one of the highlights of my life. I had a lot of fun at NSU, but I had some struggles too. I lost my scholarships, I had heartbreak, and I had tough times. Getting Outstanding Male Senior was the cherry on top of my redemption story. Between 2004-2006 I had substantial personal growth that helped shape me into the man I am today.
I learned the values of discipline, determination, and perseverance. I learned to take ownership of my failures, and my successes. I couldn’t have achieved this award without my parents, my sisters, my Lambda Chi brothers, my professors (particularly Dana and Amy), or my faith. 2006 started off as the roughest year of my life, and finished as one of the greatest. All of the hard work I had put in had paid off, and this award verified it for me. It truly set me on the path I am on today.
Welp, that is Numbers 10-7. I hope you enjoyed and the stories brought back a smile or two on your face. Tomorrow I will share about my graduations, getting my job, and my journey with PLC. Please comment below if you have a story you want to share!