What Pullman Means To Me
Friday night, I was sitting at a table with 20 fellow Phi Kappa Tau members and alumni at The Coug when "Back Home" by Andy Grammer started playing inside the bar. Now, for those of you who don't have a connection with Washington State University, that track has become an unofficial theme song for the college town of Pullman over the last few years.
"It don't matter where we go, we always find our way back home."
Couldn't have said it better myself. If you're a Cougar, Wazzu holds a special place in all of our hearts and it's always so much fun to make the trek back even years after we all graduated.
Even though I'm now in my mid-20s and living down in Arkansas, I always try to make it back to the "Promised Land" every year since it's a place that means the world to me. So, these are some of the many reasons why Pullman is such a special place to me.
1. Being a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication
Obviously, being a sportscaster was a life-long dream of mine. And when it came time to start deciding where I would go to college, I wanted to pick a school that would help me grow as a broadcaster and would give me the tools I needed for when I went out into the real world (Keith Jackson being an alum helped too haha). And I'll tell you what, the Murrow School gave me all that and A LOT MORE. But along with getting the basics of reporting, anchoring, writing, and all the essentials of broadcasting down, there were times that participating in Murrow programs gave me one important thing I needed to keep pursuing a career in sportscasting: confidence.
As you might've read in an earlier blog post, play-by-play has been a passion of mine for a long time. Immediately after I arrived to Pullman, I began participating in KUGR Radio where I learned how to call a game and got my reps on a digital recorder before being bumped up to call live games. But the moment where I went "okay I can really do this for a living" was during my sophomore year when I was chosen out of all the participants to help the Sports Director Curtis Klep call the Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments in Los Angeles. As you'd imagine, I was thrilled and it gave me the confidence I needed to keep pursuing that dream.
During my senior year, when I was working for Murrow News 8, my professor Lucrezia Paxson, was extremely hard on me. But I'm extremely thankful that she was. She taught me so much. I still use "say lion, see lion" even to this day. She made sure I brought out personality on camera, stopped being monotone, improved my vocabulary (which also helped in play-by-play), and even referred me to local TV stations for internships and jobs without my knowing. I am forever thankful for Lucrezia and wish she was still teaching at the Pullman campus so I could've seen her while I was in town.
Overall, the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication gave me the tools I needed for when I made the transition into my first job. When I was back at the Murrow Symposium this past week, I told a lot of the students to take advantage of everything that the school has to offer. And that's why I love making the trip back every year to participate in the Symposium. I want to not only keep giving back to the school that means a lot to me, but also, I want to help the current students and future broadcasters exceed when they graduate. I will continue to be a part of a great school, with a great staff, in a great town, and I am forever grateful for what the Edward R. Murrow School taught me.
2. Being a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity
One of my biggest regrets, so far, is not rushing during my freshman year. I decided to hold off on it until my sophomore year. And let me be clear, it wasn't because I hated living the dorm life. A lot of people prefer not going Greek and that is totally fine. And I enjoyed my first year in college living with some cool guys in Stimson Hall. But for me, being in a fraternity was a lot more than just creating a lot of memories with 80-90 guys in a castle. Living in a fraternity taught me several important lessons that helped mold me into the person I am today.
For those who know me, you already know that I'm a pretty reserved guy. Up until college I was much more than reserved, I was extremely quiet (I know...strange for someone whose job is to talk to athletes and coaches) and wasn't that great socially. Living in a big house with A LOT of guys, I had to adapt and learn how to be more open and social with people. This was extremely crucial for me to learn, not just for my future career, but also, just for my life in general. Learning how to live and connect with different kinds of people was such a vital part of my life in a fraternity. Of course, a lot of the credit goes to my brothers who, in turn, were great guys to get to know over those three years and treated me with respect and always made sure I branched out and was open with others.
As I said earlier, being in a frat is just more than having social events to go...IT WAS MUCH MORE. I learned a valuable lesson that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life, I formed a great bond with a great group of men who I'll know for the rest of my life, and created a lot of great memories that I'll remember for the rest of my life. Similar to me wanting to continually be a part of the Murrow School, I still try to be involved with Phi Kappa Tau even years after I left Pullman because of what that house gave me and I hope to continue being a part of a brotherhood that extends to more than just the guys I went to school with. I want to be able to know young men who come in after me and call the frat home. I don't wanna be one of those guys who the fraternity never hears from again after he graduates. Being a Phi Tau was one of the best decisions I've ever made and I'm so happy to continue being a part of a great group of men. Oohrah!
3. Being a Washington State Cougar
It's one of those things that's just hard to explain to people I know who didn't go to Wazzu. Pullman is a place unlike any other, it's one of the most unique college towns in the entire country. And it's something a kid like me, growing up in a suburb of a major city, would never have thought I'd grow to love.
During my senior year of high school back in 2010, I thought I was going to end up attending the University of Oregon. I was raised a Duck (Coug fans forgive me) since probably about 70% of my family went there. I heard so much about their journalism school and, obviously, all my friends were making their way to UO. So, it made sense that I'd be donning the green and yellow instead of the crimson and gray. But then, in late April, my parents suggested taking one more college trip to this town in Eastern Washington. After driving through the Tri-Cities, my Dad and I entered a stretch of road that just had rolling hills covered with snow. I even asked him if he knew where he was going because I seriously thought he was lost. But sure enough, we eventually saw a sign that read "Welcome to Pullman."
After being impressed during a tour of the Murrow School and taking the general tour of campus, I stood on top of the Holland & Terrell Library, overlooking Martin Stadium, Bohler Gym, and Beasley Coliseum in the distance, and I decided, at that very moment, that's where I wanted to go to school.
Now I'm sure, like a lot of people, there was a time after first arriving to college when it was a little nerve-racking: never living on your own, trying to make new friends, and trying to adjust to a new town you never lived in before. I even thought once: "I really hope I didn't make a mistake coming here instead of just going to Oregon" (obviously never had regrets). But very quickly I found out why Pullman is so special.
A big reason why Pullman is great is the sense of community. The love for the school is everywhere. It's something I don't really see with a lot of other schools (no offense). Even outside of Pullman, I'll get a "Go Cougs" whether I'm walking through the Houston airport or down the streets of Manhattan. The passion for being a Cougar runs deep. And staying on the topic of community, people are so friendly in Pullman. Like I said, it's a small college town and a majority of everyone there, from my experiences at least, wants to help everyone. I never thought I would love living in a small town so much.
I just love Pullman. I could write a separate post describing every single reason why I love that town, but I'll just share a couple. I love the smell of wheat in the air during those late summer nights. I love the first snow fall of the year (but hate slipping on ice on my way to class haha). I love Glenn Johnson screaming "And that's another..." with the crowd responding with "COUGAR FIRST DOWN" at football games. I love the workouts you get from just walking through campus (hello Cougar Calves). I love trips to the Dunes. I love seeing the Bryan Clock Tower lit up in crimson while walking through campus after studying at the library. I love the views of the rolling hills. I love sinking my teeth into a Cookies n Cream waffle cone at Ferdinands. I love walking through Greek Row and campus during Cougar Football Saturdays. I love spontaneous trips to The Coug with friends and classmates.
Again like I said, I can go on and on. And believe me, I was jealous of everyone who was in Pullman who got to experience all of that when College GameDay came last season.
People ask me every year "You graduated years ago. Why are you going back to your old college?" And my answer every time is "the journalism school means the world to me, my old fraternity means the world to me, and my old home means the world to me." I'm so happy whenever I get to visit Pullman. I may be getting older and, obviously, can't make it as much as I wish, but believe me, if there's a chance to go visit the "Promised Land," I'm taking advantage of it. Wazzu gave me my start to my dream career, it taught me important lessons about growing up and becoming the person I am today, and, gave me a time period that I will always look back on and be thankful for.
"Why Washington State? Well that's a stupid question." - Mike Leach.