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Frogs connecting in L.A. (and everywhere!)

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We looked at the TCU Alumni LA chapter to see how Frogs are getting connected all over the country. Our conclusion? Resistance is futile!

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Recently, as I walked into the Santa Barbara Bowl to see Dallas native Don Henley in concert, I met a fellow Horned Frog. We were both "representing the brand," I in my black and purple TCU cap, and he in his bright purple Horned Frog sweatshirt. We both flashed the hand sign and said "Go Frogs," and I marveled both that such a thing was happening on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and that no one around us seemed to think it was weird. Just a couple of fans celebrating one of the top teams in the country. No big deal.

One of the things making this seem more normal and happen more often, is the growing number of alumni and TCU supporters in Southern California and the rest of the country. The TCU Alumni Association recognizes 14 official chapters, and several more clubs. Whether an area is recognized as one or the other has to do with the demographics in the area, including alumni, parents, and other supporters.  I've personally enjoyed connecting - even if just a little bit due to distance - with the TCU Alumni Los Angeles Chapter, the "LA Frogs." I wanted to learn more about how it all works and how Horned Frogs can get more connected with each other, so I chatted with two of their leaders, current chapter President Lauren Blassberg, and former President and current Vice-President Glenton Richards, both - like Don Henley - natives of the DFW metroplex who have made their way to "Hotel California."

Current President Lauren Blassberg ‘13 is originally from Keller, TX, outside Forth Worth. Near the end of high school she took several college tours at "all the big schools" around Texas and Oklahoma, but when she visited TCU she "fell in love with the campus and the school. Her Dad was very glad she remained in Fort Worth to go to school." She studied Finance at the Neeley School, graduating in 2013. She worked one year in Dallas after that, but was eager to try something new and make a change. When her Dallas roommate got a job in Los Angeles, Lauren looked there too and followed last July, and they are roommates again! Lauren was aware of the TCU-LA alumni chapter, and wanted to get involved with football game watch parties.  Then President Glenton Richards "asked her to help out, one thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was President of the chapter."

LA Chapter President Lauren Blassberg

LA Chapter President Lauren Blassberg

An area has to reach a certain threshold to qualify for chapter support from the Alumni Association, which then provides assistance with organizing and subsidizing events.  All events are approved by the Alumni Association, whose advisor to the Los Angeles Chapter is Kyle Arnold. (Kyle attended the TCU LA Entertainment Panel and Mixer event on October 20.) The Alumni Association also assists with on-line registrations as the chapter promotes each event. L.A. Chapter events have included football game watch parties, of course, as well as book drives, entertainment panels, wine tasting, and art museum tours. This coming Dec 3 there will be a community service event at which the group will get together with 30-40 high school students to provide mentoring and share their experiences from attending TCU. Lauren says the chapter is very open to suggestions from members regarding what kinds of events to have. There were TCU LA Frogs gatherings at the TCU Baseball games at USC, UCLA, vs. Vanderbilt at Dodger Stadium, and at LMU last May. An area with a smaller number of alumni and other supporters may qualify as a "Club." This is a relatively new thing that has been mainly confined so far to football watch parties. Lauren says there are plans to expand them to at least one non-football event. Lauren encourages alumni to get involved in their local chapter or club for the networking opportunities. Out here in L.A., she says, "they are even more likely to help you because it is so rare to run into Frogs here." She landed her current job in Los Angeles by networking with fellow Frogs.

About the same time Lauren was growing up to become a Horned Frog in Keller, Glenton Richards '06 was doing the same in nearby Dallas. When the time came to transfer from a community college, Glenton chose TCU over SMU (he says his decision was not based on who had possession of the skillet).  He started TCU in 2003 intending to major in Electrical Engineering but did a bit of a Doctson-style 180 and Boykin-flipped to a major in Radio, TV, and Film, with a minor in English.  After TCU, he worked in Dallas for a few months, "but always had his sights on Los Angeles, wanting to write for television and film."  He first moved in with family in Riverside CA, and then moved to Los Angeles in January 2008.

LA Chapter Vice-President Glenton Richards

LA Chapter Vice-President Glenton Richards

He wasn't too familiar with the TCU LA Alumni Chapter when he first connected with them, but as someone who had been involved in student government and the Filmmakers Association at TCU, it was only a few months before he was asking if they could use his help and joined the chapter's board. He became the Vice-President, and within a few months when the President needed to leave Los Angeles, Glenton moved into that role.  In those days, a typical watch party might bring in about 10-12 people, so Glenton did what many of the rest of us can confess to - if he saw a car with a TCU decal, he would leave a note on it.  He recalls being waved down at a stop light one time by a guy in a TCU sweatshirt. These are the ways Horned Frogs find each other in the outlying regions beyond Texas!  Under Glenton's leadership, the chapter grew, and a typical watch party now brings in 40-50 people. The chapter has taken advantage of the new tools provided by social media, and Glenton posts many funny messages, game recaps, and information on events. The chapter occasionally raffles off some fun prizes to promote the activities. These activities are constantly expanding, and now besides football watch parties, the group also gets together for some spring basketball and baseball events.  They have done a Spring Big 12 mixer with alumni chapters from all the schools in the conference. Being involved in chapter leadership in Los Angeles, Glenton has not made it to any games live in the past five years, with the exception of the 2011 Rose Bowl. However, he will attend the TCU-Baylor game at the end of this regular season. (We're all waiting to find out where we're going after that!)

I asked Glenton if he had any advice for new President Lauren. "Just continue to stay active in meeting new Frogs, and always continue to greet those coming to watch a game. It's a great chance to expand the chapter. Make them comfortable, and then they will open up and make new friends. We can take for granted that they are connected, and that might not be the case"  I also asked him what he wanted people in the area who have not yet gotten involved with the chapter to know about it. "It's a really great group at the SmithHouse every week. Now would be the time to get involved. It's not the friendliest city for commuting, but we try to take into consideration where everyone is and be as central as we can." Glenton thinks it will be more fun if the one Los Angeles group grows ever larger, rather than splintering into smaller groups in more locations. I have to personally say I thought watching the Tech shootout with the group was well worth the 100 mile drive each way (so the rest of you are without excuse!), and hope to get to as many more events as I can.

You can always find information about Alumni chapters , game watch parties, and other events at http://www.froglinks.com! Come join the fun!

GO FROGS!!!