Monday, September 6, 2010

Ouachita....That's Wash-i-tah

Today is Labor Day, but it's also Founder's Day at Ouachita Baptist University, my alma mater and current employer. Lori Motl, a Ouachita alumna and current Director of Admissions Counseling, has put together an effort for Ouachita alums in the blogosphere to blog about their Ouachita experience. If you'd like to partcipate or read other entries, visit

My Ouachita experience takes a few different forms.

And that results in a long blog post, so either bear with me or feel free to move on to the next link in your Google reader.

At first, when I was growing up it was the place where I had my first all night camp out -- on the lawn in front of Daniel Hall at the RA Convention. Well, until the storm started then we went into the back of dad's suburban. Pine Derby was held in the gym, what I would know later as the Lower gym or intramural courts.

A few years later, Ouachita became the place I went to summer camp, Super Summer Arkansas to be exact. For the summers after my 9th through 12th grade years it was where I grew spiritually and found a cute girl or two that lived way too far away.

During the time when I began looking for colleges Ouachita's connotation took a little bit of a negative turn. It became "the place I wasn't going to go because my mom went there."

That feeling stayed through my junior year into my senior year. I had a roommate, housing deposit, and future schedule set at the University of Arkansas. I had followed the Hogs all my life and I was getting ready to become one.

Woo Pig Sooie.

But then April of 1995 came. Technically back up to February. I was about to miss the application deadline when mom and dad called Randy Garner and we faxed an application in the day of the deadline (e-mail and online applications were not even on Al Gore's radar yet, I don't think.)

I decided to take a trip down on a spring weekend for a preview weekend that was the same time as something called Tiger Traks. I didn't know much about Traks but I knew that I was going to stay with a senior in college in his dorm room with his suite mates. How cool was that?

I was welcomed by a group of several people who were all upperclassmen. I can remember most of them: Brandon Barnard, Bob Wilson, Misty Wilson, Matt Fisher, Amy Pryor, Jeff Greer, Peter Cunningham, and others.

I had a blast and remember sitting in the car with mom and dad from 8th street looking over the Oozeball pit as we were getting ready to head home. I told mom that I had changed my mind and wanted to go to Ouachita. After offering the obligatory, "Now you know that you don't have to do it just for me," comment, I think I saw a smile when she turned back around and faced the front.

Four months later, Ouachita went from being the place I wasn't going to go because of my mom, to the place I was fired up about going to, to my new home.

It was home for 4 years. It was where I learned a lot both inside the classroom and out of it. I learned from professors like Lavell Cole, Trey Berry, Bill Downs, Jeff and Deborah Root among others. I learned from staff members like Ian Cosh, Randy Garner, Kathy Berry and my boss of four years, Mac Sisson.

It's where I gained invaluable experience in my field as a student worker. I had by-lines in regional and statewide newspapers as a freshman in college. I was on radio broadcasts for four years and working with legendary media members as a part of the Sports Information Department.

And, like so many others that it's a bit cliche -- it's where I met my wife. (Awwwww....)

I learned how to live away from mom and dad and how to budget my time -- well, sort of.

Two years after graduating in 1999, Ouachita took another form in my life.

It's been the place I work since May of 2001. I've worked in the athletic department, alumni office and development office and have encountered hundreds of alums over the last 10 years that have similar stories.

The names and faces may be different, but students who are at Ouachita today are sharing the same experiences that students from the past 124 years. These are young men and women who would make my fellow Ouachita Alumni proud. There is a heart for service and a heart for the Lord in these young men and women that make for a very bright future.

Now, Ouachita is the place that I am raising my kids. Well, we don't actually live on campus, but we're at so many things we might as well. The new dorms are nicer than what we lived in when we were in school anyway, so it wouldn't be as bad as it would have been back then.

It's the ability to have different student groups over to the house to eat. It's having my son have role models to look up to and being able to play Wii in our living room with members of the Tiger basketball team.

It's Ouachita, and it's a big part of my life story.

May we share our Ouachita stories with the world and let the world see into our Bubble if it is just for one day.


  1. Lori hit a home run with the BlogAbout! (See how I used a sports term for the guy who used to work in the athletic department?)

    Seriously, it's been fun sharing with memories with friends who were at OBU with me and hearing stories from people I don't know but are still part of my Ouachita family.

    This has been a fun blog-reading day.

  2. Oozeball! I'd forgotten all about that - Thanks for the memories.

  3. Now why did that just bring tears to my eyes??? Because I have a very similar story on how I got to Ouachita too.... :)