An Open Letter to Ohio State fans from a Sooner Student

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. 

Boomer Sooner!

Gillian Gauss

OU Class of 2020

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24 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Ohio State fans from a Sooner Student”

  1. Thanks Gillian. It may have been a letter I penned a year ago complimenting the hospitality extended by the OU fans to us while in Norman that you reference.

    So pleased to see you had a positive experience on our turf. Until we meet again, boomer Sooner and go Bucks’

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  2. I’m glad you had such a great time and I can’t say I am surprised at your treatment while at OSU. Buckeyes are the best-always respectful and never have I seen trolling or poor treatment of our visitors. It wouldn’t be tolerated.
    As an OSU Marching Band parent-I enjoyed watching your band participate in our Skull session and in the shoe game day.
    Best wishes to you and I know this open letter leaves your parents very proud.

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  3. I am a parent at the Franklin Heights High School and I was so impressed with the Band’s performance and I am was thrilled that you came to our School. The FHHS Falcons appreciated your performance. Thank you to the entire band and staff.

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  4. We were blown away by your numbers and your university’s commitment. Glad you had a good experience. Apologies for the thoughtless student section in the south stands who started the O-H-I-O chant during your pre-game performance.

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  5. As a lifelong Buckeye fan and now as a Redcoat (game day greeter/usher), I can say that all of the OU fans I met last Saturday were wonderful, kind, and polite. At the Skull Session, darn near every one of the OU band members that hustled out through the door I was holding said “thank you!” with a smile on their face. Although the game didn’t end the way I would have liked, I will gladly welcome The Pride of Oklahoma, their parents, fans, and the football team back to Ohio and Ohio Stadium any time!

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  6. Thank you for such a nice writeup, Gillian! I am so glad to hear you all had positive experiences while here. And the Skull Session is not to be missed! I’ve heard from band members in many other programs that it is an experience they will take with them for a lifetime. As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, it is a tradition of ours to sing Carmen Ohio with the players, fans and the band after every victory…no matter where we are. It’s the Alma Mater and no disrespect is ever intended. Our fans travel well…as do yours…so it’s a tip of the hat to acknowledge their willingness to represent.
    The actions of a few can never outweigh the overwhelming majority…so no worries. We are just happy that your overall experience here was a good one! Our impressions were certainly positive too!
    Good Luck in your studies!
    Just a lifelong resident of Columbus, Ohio.

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  7. Thank you for your wonderful comments regarding your trip to The Ohio State University. As a recent retiree after 32 years of service to Student Live Student Health Services I feel such a love for OSU and it warms my heart to hear you were treated well. I make an effort to be a good fan and I think many of us do. You will always have a few, as you mentioned, that don’t represent the true feel of a place, we have those too. Your band’s performance was outstanding and I am very happy you made the trip.

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  8. I am glad you enjoyed your visit Gillian. I too was there for the first time in my life but as a fan of The Buckeyes. I saw the same thing you did from both sides of the fan base. Unlike you, I was actually fortunate to not witness any actions from either side that crossed the line…but I did leave the game the second the clock hit zero and personally witnessed none of the after game antics. The Sooners who were in my section…and there was a lot because I was in the B section just above where the band was located…were all respectful and we had some nice conversations as well.

    I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Sooner fans and still can’t get some of the chants out of my head…especially the one that ends with Texas Sucks…which we all agree on! Don’t apologize for the few who cross the lines, as many of us understand there are always going to be a few bad apples!

    I have been to Ohio and Columbus many many times in my life as I have family there but unfortunately live in The State Up North and have to live with The Team Up North’s fanbase…which isn’t so great at times. I have never been able to partake in sporting events at OSU until this weekend and I was able to enjoy the Football game and also a Women’s Soccer Game the next day…unfortunately both losses. The greeting I received from all of the staff and locals and other fans at the games was great…even after they found out where I lived.

    I am happy that it sounds like your first visit to Columbus was as pleasurable as my first visit to the Shoe. Hopefully we both get another chance to go to a game there soon.

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  9. Thank you Gillian for your delightful comments about your experience at Ohio State. As an Alumnus of the University, I try to go out of my way to greet fans from the visiting schools. My husband was a member of the marching band, so we are so glad you were able to experience the Skull Session. Our efforts were on campus, at the hotel and along the road in hopes they had the correct directions to the places they wanted to visit.
    We hope you come back to Columbus to visit and enjoy our wonderful city and hospitality for longer than a football band trip. There are many fantastic things to see and do here.
    Best wishes for your studies and come back soon.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is reassuring to my heart that caring people do exist in this world when there are so many that choose not to respect others. Your words and example are true evidence of that. ( We also can agree that band people rock!). So glad they treated you like their own!

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    1. Susan James is not a representative Buckeye fan. This game meant a lot to Baker and let’s face it, beating the Buckeyes is a big deal. I am happy for him though I wished we would have won… but in no way, shape or form is Baker anything like JohnnyM.

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  11. Thank you for your kind words Gillian. I believe Columbus, and Ohio in general, likes to be kind and welcoming to all. So I am glad you felt the love. Come back anytime!

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  12. Gillian, what a wonderfully articulated letter! Both of our schools have such stories programs and a shared desire for excellence. I am glad to hear you had a great experience as I believe I would have at your school. I want strong competition and good sportsmanship to prevail. It drives us all to be better. At the end of the day, football is just a game but character like yours is eternal. Thank you for being you. OU is fortunate to have you.

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  13. Gillian Gauss, you are an example of great sportsmanship, respect, and class. Oklahoma should be proud of your actions. You are welcome back in Columbus anytime.

    Andrew Boyer
    The Ohio State University, BA 2004

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  14. Thanks, Gillian. Your letter more than makes up for the unsportsmanlike conduct of Mr. Mayfield after the game, planting the OU flag deliberately in the center of Block “O” mid-field. Not only was there damage to the turf, but I feel he embarrassed everyone on the Sooner team, and showed disrespect for both schools. If I were his coach, I would sit him for the entirety of the next game. It is great to know, though, that outside of the stadium, as well as within, both schools enjoy a herd of decent people, fans who show visitors the utmost in respect. I was there when Uwe kicked our keister. Everyone was great. And except for Mr. Mayfield’s act, this game was no different. The Sooners are welcome in Ohio any time, win or lose. Perhaps OU can replace That State Up North in our annual Red Cross Blood Drive competition ?

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