I’ve had a lot of firsts here at the beginning of my tenure as a national advisor. Among my favorites have been my first time trying Texas two-stepping, Mexican food and living with roommates from other power football schools who may be even more passionate about college football than I am. At the top of my list of firsts, however, are the new places I have gotten to visit and will get to travel to.
Adding to the list this week was my first adventure in the state of Oklahoma. Admittedly my only previous experience with the state was seeing the musical “Oklahoma” and my slow, drawn out process of converting to an OKC Thunder fan in lieu of my lifetime of misery with the Washington Wizards. I still have love for you John Wall in case you ever find yourself reading this. This experience kicked off with a brief stop by the University of Oklahoma to meet the men of OU.
The men of OU were fantastic hosts, and it was great to see how a chapter of that size can operate with such closeness and unity. They even included me in a special (and I emphasize special) version of the newlywed game. Unfortunately, National Advisor Chris Godfrey, who serves over the OU Chapter and accompanied me on this trip, and I were booted in the first round.
After a visit to Route 66 and a stop at a local favorite soda shop called Pops, Chris and I were met by President Kevin East, along with a few other officers, for a campus tour. The campus is located in the middle of the beautiful Oklahoma countryside. One thing that struck me was that the university has almost 18,000 students but was able to maintain a campus with such a close knit feel. The men were conveying their excitement over the state of their chapter during the tour. The UCO Chapter, which was initiated little more than a year ago, is one of our newest chapters. This was a fact that I had to constantly remind myself on this trip as these men have done a tremendous job putting themselves ahead of the curve as far as new chapters go.
Chris and I jumped in right away with officer meetings. My first meeting was with Vice President Matt Henton. Matt has done a tremendous job with sorority involvement. They have a great sorority social schedule for the fall. They have gotten to the point where sororities are contacting them and asking to set up events, which is a great step. One of Matt’s big goals for the semester is to establish some diversity in their social calendar, which I know will serve the chapter well.
Next up was President Kevin East. Kevin is a guy with a great sense of fraternity, and it shows in the chapter. These guys have excelled in ritual in ways that many new chapters do not. The focus of our talk was figuring out ways that the chapter can be more efficient and take the next step in development.
Pledge Captain Christian Lloyd and I had a fantastic meeting. He is a leader who is focused on ensuring that the pledges have a meaningful and intentional pledgeship. This fall was UCO’s biggest pledge class, pulling in 21 members, and I am fully confident that, when they get initiated, they will look back very fondly on their pledgeship.
Monday night I was privileged to enjoy a UCO chapter meeting. The men have implemented the chapter ritual from the national ritual guide and do it very well. I was able to speak to the chapter on the importance of men stepping up into leadership roles because this is a chapter that will need strong leadership if their momentum is to continue. It was easy to sense the love these men have for each other during my time at the chapter meeting. While there is still room for growth in the organization of their chapter meetings I could not help but be impressed with a group of guys who have only had BYX for 3 semesters but are getting it so well.
Kicking off my Tuesday meetings was Chaplain Caleb Glennie. Caleb was an absolute joy to meet with and you could tell how much responsibility he takes for spiritually leading his men within five minutes of talking with him. We discussed cell groups a lot, and I was proud of his efforts in empowering more men to step up and be cell group leaders so the chapter could keep cell groups small.
Treasurer Cody Pritchard came up next in my meeting lineup. Cody has been a good treasurer, but is for sure a guy who recognizes his role outside of his financial duties. We were able to make great headway on fundraising ideas and have a good conversation about the spiritual vision of the fraternity.
My final officer meeting was with Secretary Kevin McCoy. Kevin took me on a walking tour of UCO’s campus which included a stop by the beautiful Bronco Lake located by the student union. Although I am slightly biased being a former secretary myself, the position is one of the most crucial in a fraternity as far as maintaining organization and efficiency. We had a good talk going over the particulars of the position and how he can help make the UCO officer corps more efficient.
My last night in Edmond was spent at a local trampoline park called elevation. After a dinner with the pledge class, Chris and I took them on in multiple intense games of trampoline dodge ball, which is a lot tougher than it sounds. The visit also allowed me to dunk on a ten-foot basketball rim, which is a personal first. Following the night of trampoline induced mayhem, I was able to address a majority of the fall pledge class. The chapter shattered expectations and brought in 21 pledges, which grew their chapter considerably. After meeting with them, I am confident that these are the future leaders of the UCO Chapter.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Edmond. These men have done a lot to excite us at Nationals in only three semesters. The goal now is sustaining that momentum with another solid group of officers. No fraternity can reach new levels of success with only one pledge class. Meaningful growth has to be sustained over multiple semesters. The men of UCO showed me many reasons why this should be expected.