“Born in the USA” was blaring from loudspeakers as hundreds of women gathered outside the entrance to Boone Pickens Stadium, home to the Oklahoma State University Cowboys football team in Stillwater, Okla.
The sun was shining and the chatter was lively as Mack Butler, director of operations for OSU Athletics, greeted the large group, who headed down to the locker room to pick up a tote bag filled with information and a personalized football.
“I am giving you what our own players experience,” he said to the 500 women, 180 of whom, Butler said, were “newbies.” The rest were on their second, third or more visit to Football 101 for Women, the hugely popular, one-day experience of drills, training, field exercises, videos and discussions. The event is in such demand that they sell out each year. Mothers and daughters, relatives of players, groups of fun-seeking ladies (often dressed alike), and tourists spend one hot summer day learning what it takes to be a Cowboy.
Butler led the day with his magnetic personality, joking, smiling and personally visiting with as many as possible, along with introducing his coaching staff. After a group photo, the action shifted to the practice field, thankfully covered, across the street. Passing, tackling, running, kicking and other football basics were taught by the coaches with the smiling help of the entire OSU team. The players were polite, engaging and supportive. Lunch, a delicious one, was served in the players’ cafeteria and they fanned out across the room to sit with the attendees and autograph the footballs provided in the tote bags. The afternoon included a lesson from one of the many assistant coaches, a chance to run onto the field through the players’ tunnel, a terrific question-and-answer session with four mothers of players and a surprise visit from the rock-star-like Head Coach Mike Gundy. Best $130 spent ever!
Even if you don’t have a connection to OSU, this is a fun day and most leave with a huge fondness for the school if they didn’t arrive with one. The next Football 101 is scheduled for Friday, July 27. Go to okstate.com/sports/2015/10/21/FB_1021152521 for complete information and a link to register online or by mail.
Stillwater, “America’s Friendliest College Town,” has plenty of fun things to do before and after Football 101.
The Atherton Hotel is located right on campus. It is a Southern charmer, a boutique hotel with free WiFi and breakfast. Opened in 1948, it underwent a major renovation in 2014 to create a sparkling modern tribute to its historic roots. Many a president, celebrity and professional athlete has stayed at the Atherton. The Rancher’s Club puts out an impressive spread and the bartenders at the State Room dazzle with their cocktail-creating talents. The school colors of orange and black are a pretty challenging decorating palette if you don’t want it to look like Halloween, but the Atherton has done a stunning and elegant job. Hints of orange, black and white checks, and subtle black and orange stripes set a muted tone. Be sure to notice that the Atherton’s shampoo and soaps and creams are orange scented.
Things to Do
National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
Did you know that 13 U.S. presidents were wrestlers? You can find out who and much more at this small but comprehensive museum. Opened in 1976, they have the largest collection of memorabilia related to wrestling in America. The museum contains the John Vaughan Hall of Honors, the Paul K. Scott Museum of Wrestling History, the Cliff Keen Theater, the Hein Library, and a variety of educational outreach exhibits.
Eskimo Joe is waiting to greet you and dish up some tasty burgers from the ivy-covered restaurant.
World famous for the millions of T-shirts bearing the face of Eskimo Joe and his dog, Buffy, this iconic hamburgers-and-much-more restaurant is a must when in Stillwater. Eskimo Joe’s opened in 1975 serving beer, burgers, live music and a friendly welcome. Forty-five years later, they still do.
Original Hideaway Pizza
Famed as serving the best pizza in Oklahoma, Hideaway has been tossing pies since 1957, which means all the students, their parents and THEIR parents have been there. Hideaway Pizza’s casual dining concept was created by Richard “The Big Kahuna” Dermer and his wife, Marti, near the Oklahoma State University campus. Now they have more than six locations.
Another icon, Granny’s serves homemade dishes made from scratch, based on original recipes from the 1940s cafe owner, Delpha Rains, including her homemade cinnamon rolls which are served fresh every day. Stillwater’s favorite Granny has the town abuzz with news of the owner’s new adventure. Mohammad Mahmoud announced recently that he is opening Granny’s Steakhouse at 7th Avenue and Main Street. Social media quickly weighed in with approval.
For more information, go to VisitStillwater.org. Go Cowboys!