I don’t have a typical “grew up a lifelong fan” or “it runs in the family” story as to how I got my fandom. In fact, if we are being completely honest, I couldn’t have cared less about Oklahoma State or the Big 12 before 2014.
Why should I have? I grew up in the middle of a small town rural Minnesota. (In fact, that’s where I am right now as I write this.) Let me tell you about my small town. If you drive all the way around town, you go exactly one mile. We have a little over 200 people in our town. No stop lights, two speed limit signs, two parochial schools, the remains of our church that burned down, a post office, three ball fields, no gas station, a grain elevator and a bar.
Curious? Here it is.
All I have ever known is the small-town life. The nearest town has roughly 10,000 people. To get to the nearest mall that isn’t run down and awful, you have drive 45 minutes. The nearest professional sports team is two hours away. I graduated high school with nine other people. Three of which I have been in school with since I was in 3-year-old preschool. Everybody knew everybody and if something happened, it didn’t take long for everyone to find out.
So why would I care at all about the Big 12? It was all about the Big 10 for me growing up. Minnesota - Iowa - Michigan - Wisconsin - Floyd of Rosedale - Little Brown Jug - and so on and so forth. I was born into it, I grew up with it and I didn’t think I was ever going to leave it.
So, the next question is something probably along the lines of how in the world I ended up in Stillwater, OK.
The answer I tell everyone is Oklahoma State had Sports Media as a major, and I wanted to get a sports-specific degree instead of a general communication.
But that’s just scratching the surface.
Truth be told, I was tired of the small-town lifestyle. I was tired of knowing everyone. I couldn’t wait to get the hell outta Dodge and be a random person that not everyone knew or knew my family.
So, my junior year of high school, I started looking. From a young age, I always thought I would stay in state and proudly become a University of Minnesota Golden Gopher. However, living in the Twin Cities and being on a campus of around 50,000 students got less and less appealing as I grew older. I like my space and hate traffic, so Minneapolis was quickly crossed off my list. I considered Syracuse, but didn’t think I wanted to be in New York for four years. I considered Arizona State. The Walter Conkrite School of Journalism is widely considered to be one of the best in the country, but I wasn’t too sold on living in the desert. I also considered Iowa State, but there was something missing at all of these schools that I found in Stillwater - a sports-oriented degree.
So, I visited the Oklahoma State campus. As is the case with many other people, I fell in love immediately. With everything; The town. The campus. The culture. Even my mom, who was campaigning hard for me to not go as far away as Stillwater, admitted that OSU was her favorite place out of the handful of places we visited, and she knew it was the right place for me. She said it felt like home.
So I took a chance. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but at the same time, I wasn’t scared. I was excited to see what would happen.
I think I hit the jackpot.
I got lucky and came to OSU when, overall, the athletics programs are really good. I don’t know what it is like to support OSU when all the teams aren’t as successful as they have been lately. However, believe me when I say this, I know how to stick with teams that are awful. Helllllloooooooooooooo?!!? Minnesota?! Other than the Lynx (WNBA team in case you were wondering), no team has had any postseason championship since the Twins won their second World Series in 1991 - five years before I was born. I’ve been born and raised in being Loyal and True all my life. And trust me. There has been plenty of opportunities to abandon my awful teams for those with better success. But I haven’t. I’ve stuck it out. Maybe I don’t know any better, maybe I’m too stuck in my ways to change them now. Whatever the reason, I have my teams and I will defend them until the day I die.
Oklahoma State is now a part of that. I look around and I see the horrible things happening at schools nationwide. Alleged academic scandal at North Carolina. Everything that is allegedly happening at Baylor. Teams - not just OU - that allow lesser character individuals in order to succeed athletically. I could go on and on, but here’s my point.
It doesn’t happen at Oklahoma State. If it does, it is dealt with quickly and fairly. No redshirts. No suspensions. For heinous acts, you get kicked off the team. The only real scandal that I can think of that came up against OSU was the infamous smear campaign Thayer Evans published in Sports Illustrated, and even that brought more backlash on SI than OSU.
I’m a fan of OSU because they do everything right. Yes, there is an occasional bad apple that hurts the program, but these bad apples are quickly eliminated. Oklahoma State does its best to run a clean program, even if that means hurting the program by losing key players.
Oklahoma State and Stillwater is perfect for me. I get the “big town feel” without the big-town problems. I would have been miserable in Syracuse or Minneapolis. I hate the traffic in Stillwater, so there’s no way I would have survived in the truly big cities. I still feel in touch with my roots a bit, as the agriculture of southern Minnesota is still present in Oklahoma. Yes, the 11 hour drive kind of sucks, but to me, it’s worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world
As I look back over my first two years of college, and wonder how it can already be half over, I think about how great everything has been. Oklahoma State really is a family. I thank God for that.
So why am I a fan of Oklahoma State? I’m a fan because they took this kid from the Great White North and accepted him with open arms. I didn’t know anybody when I left home. It didn’t take long for me to find some new lifelong friends though. Some of them I met in class. Some of them I met in my dorm. Some I met at athletics events. All of them I met at Oklahoma State.
I didn’t become a fan of Oklahoma State athletics. I knew wherever I ended up would be my new team. While sports were important to me, they weren’t the most important. I am a fan of the Oklahoma State culture. It is ingrained in every facet of the school. I felt it as soon as I stepped foot onto campus, and have felt it every day since. I love my school. I love my fellow Cowboys and Cowgirls. I love Oklahoma State.
Go Pokes. Loyal and True.