Like previous times when I have received sad news of a Sooner taken from us too early, I feel the need to share my story in their honor as a way of processing. Two days ago, I heard that former Sooner football player Jakie Sandefer, was quite ill. My boss stood there and told me, “He’s in the hospital and they don’t think he’ll make it.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I wanted to say, “But I just saw him a few months ago…” Word quickly spread and I made sure a friend of mine who also worked with me in the suites and private donor areas also knew of his status. We both reached out to his secretary to share that our thoughts and prayers were with him and his family. Just about an hour ago, I got the news that Jakie passed away after “fighting the good fight.” Jakie was such a generous man and made it his mission to help former student-athletes with finding their passion in life. You couldn’t help but hear the genuine, heartfelt desire to help others when speaking to him on the phone or in person. Just this past football season, I popped up to the suites level to say hi to a few people and ran into Jakie. He was telling Paul Massad, longtime staff member of the University Development office, how much he thought of my boss and that he was proud of the work being done to help former student-athletes. He had just recently created the program Sooners Helping Sooners to do just that. Because of his generous, kind spirit, I can smile through the sadness knowing he left this world better than he found it. He not only made his mark on the University of Oklahoma, but touched so many individual lives. I am very grateful to be one of those lives. Jakie now joins other Sooners we have lost too early: Prentice Gautt, David Maloney, Bob Coleman, Karl Moyer and many more. I’m sure the lively discussions have already begun.
As I read the comments and look at the photos from the OU Softball team’s trip to the White House yesterday, I cannot help but smile and feel unbelievably proud. I have been around the game of softball a while because my sister’s best friend played in high school and college. She was always around so I would support her at games. I never completely understood or immersed myself in it until a few years ago. I was (and for the most part, still am) more of a basketball person. I would play and shoot until I couldn’t see the backboard anymore. Then something happened that threw me in the deep end of the OU Softball program and I have yet to get out of the pool.
A few years ago, I directed an athletics donation be given to the Diamond Club, the booster club for softball. A short while after, the coaches’ secretary asked if I’d help with a tailgate. I said yes and showed up to help at the requested time. I began meeting donors who were fans and realized this was a great group, a group I was now a part of unintentionally. The next week, I helped out again. I started learning names and interacting with current members. Come the summer of 2011, I found myself being asked to be the Secretary (aka Communications person). I laugh when people randomly come up to me at games and tailgates to ask “Are you the one who sends out the e-mails?” I hesitate before answering…”If you’re happy with them then yes. If not…then no.”
A class act program headed by a coach who has now not only won one championship but two..and who has met not only one, but two presidents. A girl from California who took a chance and made her case on why she should be the head coach of a program that was in shambles. Thank God for taking chances…
Three simple words that describe “a few of my favorite things” (yes, that would be a reference to The Sound of Music). in a nutshell. To me, faith is believing that there is something (or someone) greater that gets me through the difficult days. Faith is knowing that God has a plan for me though I may not understand the intricacies. Faith is trusting God when the alternative is to stay in the past.
Family is the group of people that are there no matter what. I’m blessed to have two older sisters (yea, wasn’t always giddy about that) but I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to know they always have my back. My parents are unconditionally supportive and I am grateful for their love. For the past 16 years, I have been lucky enough to be an aunt. Being the youngest child, I have absolutely loved being able to watch my nephews and niece grow up and see the world through their eyes.
Last, but certainly not least, sports. Sports are my outlet, distraction and home away from home. I love fall….fall is the changing of the leaves; fall is cooler weather; fall is Thanksgiving and vacation for me. Friends may cringe when they read this, but to me, fall is basketball season. Typically, my Wednesday and Sundays are spent at Lloyd Noble Center, home of the Oklahoma Sooners. For those 2 hours, my mind is free of all the things I need to be doing, fixing, assessing, etc… and I am a fan. I feel like I’m 12 years old again and in my backyard shooting hoops. Whether I’m celebrating a fast break play by Morgan Hook or a 3-pointer from Vegas (aka Aaryn Ellenberg), or watching Coach Coale with hands on her hips and that crooked smile after some stupid call by the refs….I don’t have a care in the world but enjoying those 40 minutes of basketball. Basketball is my first love….and thanks to a family member having introduced me to OU (and Coale’s ’02 Final Four team playing in my hometown of San Antonio), I’m a Sooner and darn proud of it.
Steadfast. This was the word that Mike Butler used to describe his best friend, Karl Moyer, during the “celebration of Karl’s life” today. Though I only knew Karl for 7 years, he still made an impression on me. I have tried to process, unsuccessfully I might add, his untimely death. Nevertheless, different memories have flashed through my head and I can’t help but smile.
While I do not disagree with Mike’s word association for Karl, something different comes to my mind: sports. Before I gave them up, I had season tickets to men’s basketball and sat right below Karl and Terri. At our first game together, Karl started yelling at the refs and Terri sweetly put her hand on my shoulder and apologized. I just laughed, shook my head and dismissed her apology saying it didn’t bother me at all. Having grown up with my Dad who shouts at the talk show hosts as if they can hear him, I knew we would get along well.
Whether it was sitting with Terri and Karl at games or hearing them make plans for dinner, I could easily see that they were perfect for each other. Karl would frequently drop Terri off at the front of Lloyd Noble while he went to park the car. Terri would get snacks they both liked and lovingly went along when he was ready to leave a game early. I laugh when I think back to one game where Karl leaned down and shared with me that he was going to get Terri an iPhone for Christmas. For those of you attended Karl’s funeral (or simply know him well) know he’s all about the gadgets….but Terri doesn’t always make them a priority. I thought it was sweet that he was so excited about it and was certain she’d feel the same way. Though she had a perfectly good Razor flip phone at the time, she ended up warming up to the iPhone fairly quick.
The first time I saw Karl on campus after he got a job with Physical Plant, he gave me a big hug and had this huge smile on his face. When I saw Terri for a lunch date shortly after that and asked how he was liking his new job, she said “Oh my gosh, he loves it! He thought it was so neat getting to go up to the press box on game day.”
Terri and Karl are the type of people you would do anything for and vice versa. Though my heart breaks for her and the girls, I simply have to trust that this was a part of God’s plan. Every time we are around the girls, we will get to see Karl in their mannerisms, facial expressions and certainly physical resemblance. Those who are able to call the Moyers their friends are forever blessed. As Mike Butler said, the relationships we have are what ultimately make a life whole and fulfilled.
Amongst the cheers and yelling last night at Lloyd Noble Center during the game against Stephen F. Austin, the chant of “Let’s go Sooners” followed by clap-clap…clap-clap-clap caught my attention. I began to follow the sounds as they weren’t coming from the cheerleaders or spirit squad. I smiled when I spotted a fan in a Crimson and White polo shirt, standing up, carrying on the chant with his wife by his side. “Good for him” I thought to myself. What true spirit.” Occasionally when he would start again, other people in the crowd would join with him. If his independent cheering bothered anyone, it didn’t faze him. Like myself, he clearly has a passion for the game and our Sooners.
As I have stated before, I enjoy football but I love basketball. It is the sport I played what feels like a zillion years ago. That orange ball with the black stripes (don’t read too much into that, Sooner fans), was what I lived to reach for as soon as my homework was done. I would stay outside until I could not see the goal anymore.
I love (and hate) that the outcome of a game can come down to one point, one free throw such as it did for our guys last night. They fought their way back from a deficit and the game was on the line. Two free throws would tie the game. The first one went in, our shooter pumped his fist. Now time for the second and tying basket….no pressure. The ball bounced off the rim and into the hands of a Stephen F. Austin player. He drove down the lane to waste more of the clock. The game was over.
As I headed to the car, disappointed for the team I thought about the fan I saw tonight. Those are the fans that have our players’s backs…..they don’t give up because we are down by 10, 15 points. They stay until the end and are the ones whose attitude is “we’ll get them next time.”
So to the fan in the red and white polo, you yell all you want…we need more fans like you.
Fellow Basketball Fan in Norman