It's hard to believe since I'm now a Sports Management Major, but I was not always a fan of sports. I hit my major growth spurt about that time when kids start to understand and enjoy sports. Since I was ridiculously disproportionate and uncoordinated, I didn't enjoy my time too much. I didn't care for watching it either due to the aforementioned reason of not understanding.
It wasn't until middle school, when I became extremely competitive with my friends, that I got interested in football. I regained my interest in basketball in high school, when the OKC Thunder became not miserable. A lot happened during that time that brought me to Orange Country though.
The first ever Oklahoma State sporting event that I went to was a regular season women's basketball game back in the early 2000's. My dad taught economics at OSU for 30 years before retiring to federal work in 2009. At that time, staff members and their families got into certain sporting events for free and my siblings and I were getting interested in basketball so that worked out pretty well in our favor.
The first basketball game I ever witnessed was on the mid-court line in the second tier over the sacred white maple that is Eddie Sutton Court. The only other memory of Oklahoma State Basketball from my childhood is watching the 2004 Final Four game against Georgia Tech on a projector my dad borrowed from work. Looking back, the memories of Eddie Sutton and the 'Boys were nothing but pleasant and fond. Perhaps that's why I still have the utmost reverence for the court itself, and all the victory and defeat it's seen during its 75 magical years.
I fantasize daily about sitting on the court during OSU basketball's glory days. Every time I do though, I always think that the court doesn't get the respect it deserves. If I could start a new tradition, it would be that the students on the floor kiss that sacred white maple before every tip off and after every final buzzer. Can that become a thing?
The next sporting event I remember much more clearly. November 11, 2006. Oklahoma State - Baylor. One of my friends in middle school had season tickets for four. His older sister decided to go with a different group of friends, resulting in them inviting me along for my first ever Cowboy football game. They had just broken ground on the expansion and the groundwork was being laid for the West End Zone. It was a brutally cold 11:30am kickoff in the shade of the south side. The foam finger I bought became a hand warmer at one point, and was surprisingly effective.
Being my first experience with the mania that is college football, my shy 7th grader self was quite unsure of all the experiences I now call traditions. Clapping and bending along to "Ride 'Em Cowboys" was crazy. Joining in on the Waving Song was just insane. Well into the 3rd quarter and deep into the shellacking (OSU won 66-24), I had given up on pride and joined in the lunacy and enjoyed it way too much. My wonder for tradition and college athletics had started to grow.
Now I do have a bit of a confession to make, I was not always an Oklahoma State fan. Between 2006 and 2009, I decided to follow my dad's family's alma mater. Don't worry, it wasn't that other team south of OKC. It's A bit further south than that. The Price family hails from Texas A&M (My Grandpa: class of 1951, my dad: class of 1974, my uncle: class of 1976). I was an Aggie for that time, partially due to wanting to be different from all my OSU and OU friends, mostly due to my mystification with the proud traditions surrounding College Station.
I came back to OSU in 2010 after watching Jerrod Johnson's 5th interception set up a Dan Bailey game-winning field goal. After that game, I wanted to start cheering for both so I could have fun with both my friends and my family. With the Ags' departure for the SEC, I became all OSU all the time.
2010 also brought with it a whole new experience.
I got to tag along with my brother's roommate's family to the 2010 Bedlam game. That was the first game I put my heart and soul towards cheering for the Pokes. Though the Pokes lost the heart-breaker, I still remember the excitement of the Brodrick Brown leaping deflection for the Shaun Lewis interception. I still don't believe it happened.
The only other game I went to prior to becoming a student was in 2011 versus K-State. I went for the OSU Experience Day, and that sealed the deal for me. Coming to Stillwater to join the Sea of Orange would be my goal.
2012 brought me to the student section I yearned to join so much. I then spent the entire season trying to figure out how to join those rambunctious noise makers on the front row. Determined to join the infamous Paddle People, I developed a game day outfit, complete with jumpsuit, face paint, and temporary hair dye.
Here I am outside BPS after unveiling against TCU.
I eventually added a flag as a cape and my persona was made. The next year I joined the Paddle People, and that's where I'll stay as long as I can.
So look for me at everything. I promise you can't miss me. I'll help you paint your face if you'll join me in putting your heart and soul towards cheering on the fine men and women that represent America's Brightest Orange. I go to everything I can: football, men's and women's basketball, wrestling, soccer, baseball, etc. etc. etc. I'll be more than happy to shoot you a Pistols Firing and an ORANGE POWER for good measure as I continue to pursue my sports management degree so I may one day work for the athletic department of this fine institution.