I remember reading a very well articulated post about a year ago from an Ohio State gentleman regarding the behavior of Sooner nation during his time down in Norman, and after spending the weekend in Columbus, I thought it was more than appropriate for me to return the favor.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Columbus with the Pride of Oklahoma. We left Norman around 7:30 and arrived in Ohio a few hours later. Our first stop was Franklin Heights HS where we were set to rehearse and perform an exhibition at the football game that evening. Every person I came in contact with was so welcoming and went out of their way to ensure every member of the Pride (All 330 of us) was taken care of and doing well. It was not only school administration who greeted us with this hospitality, but every single person we came in contact with at the school. Post rehearsal we enjoyed a meal put together by a small group of parents, and I wish I knew their names so I could thank them publicly. Feeding 330 college students is a feat, and each and every one of them served us with a smile on their faces, and encouraging words for the days ahead. However, the hospitality did not stop there. On more occasions than one I was pulled aside, and very intentionally told, “Welcome to Columbus. We are so glad that you are here.”
After our performance the praise was unending. I was overwhelmed with the number of “great job”, “we’re so impressed with your show”, and again, “we’re so excited that you’re here” comments. Simply put, this fired me up in a way I was not entirely expecting. I knew there was an exciting game ahead, but more than anything I was looking forward to meeting more Ohio State fans, because every interaction I had was so intentional and kind.
On game day my expectations were not only met, but exceeded. Hospitality radiated from the moment we unloaded the bus on campus. Walking to and from our rehearsal site people told us they were looking forward to a good game and getting to watch us perform.
Moving on to my favorite part of the entire trip: Skull Session. For those of you who don’t know what Skull Session is (because I didn’t until Saturday), Skull Session is like a giant pep rally where the Ohio State band, and a high school band come and play for the immense number of fans in the basketball stadium. The football team comes in and hype speeches are made. The time came for us to play part of our pre-game and our show for the evening. When we started to play our chant the giant stadium became silent, except the sound of every person in the stadium standing in respect, as we played a song that means so much to us. In that moment the football game did not matter. While the OU Chant probably does not mean much to those in Columbus, they gave us the utmost respect as we took part in one of my favorite traditions.
A quick comment on the Ohio State band; not only are they incredible performers, they are genuinely wonderful people. I had the opportunity to talk to the assistant band director, and the drum majors, and I can honestly say they are some of the kindest people I have ever met.
My post-game experience was very humbling. Of course the entire band, and OU fans could not contain the excitement from such an exciting victory, but all the buckeye fans we came in contact with said, “good game” and wished us safe travels home.
While I would love to end this post there, I cannot ignore the one part of the game I wish I could forget, but unfortunately it needs to be addressed. I would like to formally apologize for the actions of a select few students in the OU student section. I was embarrassed by their actions and conduct, and would like to say they are not an accurate representation of the University of Oklahoma. There is a difference between being excited for your team, and being disrespectful. They took everything a little too far, and for that I would like to apologize.
Thank you, Ohio State Buckeyes, for a great game and a weekend I will never forget. Your hospitality has inspired me to conduct my everyday life a little differently. I am looking forward to next time.
OU Class of 2020