To My Big XII Family (Thank You)

To My Big XII Family,

 

This letter isn’t about football. It’s about saying thank you.

I’m a child of the Big XII. My parents are professors at Oklahoma State. The BIG XII emblem on my field and my court has always been bright orange, Pistol Pete came to my birthday parties, and my little brother spent a year or two when he was a toddler saying “Sinner” instead of “Sooner.” We didn’t correct him.

I remember getting up early for the homecoming parade each year. My mom always bought us cinnamon rolls and we sat in front of the bank my dad worked at when he went to OSU back in the Barry Sanders era. I covered my ears when the police cars and fire trucks drove by at the beginning. Frat guys would walk by with lawn mowers, our local bike shop would ride by on tandems and big wheels, and float after float had some sort of “Beat (your school name here)” pasted across it.

My family still goes to the parade each year. I moved away a few years ago (and always miss home), but my family still eats cinnamon rolls and sits in front of the bank my dad worked at in college. The frat guys and bikers and floats still come.

Then this year I woke up to news updates and Facebook alerts. Casualties and injuries. At my homecoming parade. A flip-book of memories spun through my head.

My family was safe, but my Stillwater wasn’t. The Oklahoma State kid, the kid with the Pistol Pete parties, couldn’t fully believe what had happened in my town.

We played our game that day in a trance and faced a remaining schedule of Big XII teams. Our town was reeling. We may have won on the field but Stillwater sat defeated.

Then you, our haphazard Big XII family, picked us up and reminded us why we are a part of the best conference in the nation. Thank you.

Thank you OU for flying our flag during your game. Thank you for singing our Alma Mater. You didn’t have to and no one would say anything. But you did. That means a lot.

Thank you UT. You played our Alma Mater as well, this time out of your bell tower. Again, you didn’t have to. But you did. We’re grateful.

Texas Tech. You had a difficult task. How do you welcome a team into your town that is reeling from tragedy? From asking fans not to say “Wreck ‘Em Tech” to displaying condolences on your jumbotron, you made Stillwater families and Oklahoma State kids feel seen, appreciated, and heard. Thank you for that.

And TCU.

First, to Coach Patterson: No one asked you to leave the stadium and make a donation to the Stillwater Medical Center Foundation. But you did. You donated and made sure that, before any football was played, life and kindness were attended to.

And to the TCU team: the kneeling cowboy on your helmets was an example of your compassion. Thank you for not brushing our experience under the rug; thank you for kneeling with us.

To the fans and the programs who Tweeted and reached out and showed kindness, we thank you. This Oklahoma State kid thanks you.

I don’t know why bad things happen, but I am grateful for the humanity and kindness that come out of them.

I am grateful for you.

 

your friend and fan,

drew