by Red Dirt Kelly
As I approached the “No Loitering” a-frame sign I knew the message was a nice way of saying, “Stay out – we’re working.” My curiosity got the best of me, however, and I walked closer to the corner gate of the practice field. I could hear the OSU football team yelling drills and the sounds of helmets and pads crashing together as tackles took place over and over. The burning sun overhead made the practice atmosphere feel genuinely intimidating. A physically fit man with sunglasses and white hair decked out in new orange and black coach clothes looked my way as I got closer.
“Hey – can I take a quick photo of the team practicing?” I smiled.
“It’s closed. So…no.” He responded.
“How about of you? You look interesting!” I retorted.
“I can assure you that I am NOT interesting,” he chuckled. I waved and walked on….straight to the athletic ticket office. For the first time in about eight years I picked up a packet of student tickets for my husband and I. We were willing to trade our chair-backed seats in the alumni section for the reduced cost of these babies. With three of our family members in college, you bet your patooty we were. Besides, sitting in the student section always helps you remember mankind is a primal being – there is raw energy like no other around those crazy, crazy fans.
I checked the envelope to make sure his “student dependent/spouse” card was in the packet, talked to a few others picking up their tickets and walked back to the car.
On my returning stroll, I noticed that practice was continuing without a guarded gate and a photo would have been easy pickings…but I decided not to push things today. After all, the atmosphere across campus was just way too happy. I didn’t need to spoil the mood with being chased off the premises.
The volunteers manning information and water booths for the students were happy. The students trying to find their way around campus were also happy. The faculty walking up and down the halls in the College of Human Environmental Sciences were happy. There were new posters on the walls of student athletes in our college, students who had earned honors or done research…a smile on all their faces.
As I walked up the stairs to my office and sat down, I noticed I was in an incredibly good mood. My season football and basketball tickets were now in my purse, my syllabi were written and I had just seen my first advisee of the semester.
I have a sneaking suspicion I know why professors wait so long to retire…something about the university setting is like a fountain of youth. A new school year, a new promise of learning, a new hope of beating the living daylights out of our competition in the sports arenas.
It’s going to be a good year.