I have very much been looking forward to the opportunity to share the story of what brought me to Fort Worth; TCU means so much to me, and it's always fun to reminisce. For me, growing up in Northern California, Texas barely existed in my world. I knew it was a state, a big state, and though my family traveled pretty extensively, we had never made our way to it. As I got older, and started getting interested in college sports, and really sports in general, I picked the teams that were available to me. My parents aren't sports fans at all, and we didn't go to many games (save my grandpa's season tickets to the Kings - I've been a fan since they moved to Sacramento, because that was all I knew and I didn't care if they won, as long as I got cotton candy and the chance to play some pop a shot), so whoever was on TV became my rooting interest. Thus, on Saturday mornings, while my friends were watching cartoons, I was glued to Notre Dame football. Sundays, it was the Niners on the radio while we did HOURS of yard work with my dad, during March I followed every shot of North Carolina and UCLA basketball, and in the summers? It was Harry Carey and Cubbies baseball on WGN.
All of that meant, when I started thinking about my future, I had three schools that I wanted to go to - UCLA, Notre Dame, and North Carolina. After touring no less than 30 California schools with my youth group, I added two closer options - Cal Poly in lovely San Luis Obispo, and Loyola Marymount in LA. When push came to shove, UNC was so far away, UCLA was just so big, and South Bend was so cold - I needed an alternative. I had a list of things that were important to me that I used as a reference as I looked through my handy Princeton Review college guide - pouring over each page, I finally came to a school that checked off every single box, little old Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. I scheduled a visit to LMU and TCU over a long weekend, and set off for Texas for the very first time, all by myself.
I had the worst first impression of TCU ever. The hosts that were supposed to chaperone me for the weekend bailed, and I ended up locked outside of the old Foster for an hour in the rain after being dropped off by Super Shuttle, before someone finally saw me and let me in. While they tried to track down some students to host me, I sat in the lobby alone reading, before finally being whisked away by a couple of really nice sophomore girls. They showed me all around Fort Worth, took me for BBQ and ice cream, and made sure I was all set of my tours the next day. I fell in love with the campus, with the people, with the friendliness and kindness of Texans. While my visit to LMU couldn't have gone any better, and my trip to TCU couldn't have started any worse, my choice was easy. I called my mom from DFW (on a payphone) and told her "I'm going to be a Horned Frog!".
It was a little rare to be from California at TCU back when I arrived - I think there were only a few of us in my freshman class, and as such, I like to take credit for opening the flood gates - Rose Bowl what? I loved football, but honestly, we were so bad my freshman year, it took me a while to get in to it. We went 1-10, but beat SMU to close the season, and my interest was piqued. But what really did it for me was having several classes with LaDainian Tomlinson - we sat next to each other in a couple, and he used to always ask to borrow the ESPN pens I had collected through PAing a couple of times. I would tell him he could as long as he did the "dun nun nuh, dun nun nuh", which he gladly agreed to. I was there for the 406 game, and watching him just destroy defenses was an incredible sight to see live - even though it annoyed me that we never threw the ball. Playing in the Sun Bowl, and beating a hated Southern Cal team only increased my fandom, losing at the Fort Worth Bowl a few years later left me in a funk for days. After moving back to California, I kept my fandom alive, but sadly had to watch the OU, Utah, and several bowl games from afar.
Then came that magical undefeated season... I was in Hawaii with my family for Thanksgiving, and our flight landed about halfway through the fourth quarter of the Boise/Nevada game. As we were matriculating through the airport, I stopped at every bar and restaurant with a TV, much to the annoyance of my family, who just wanted to get home. We got to the car as Boise was driving late, and I frantically updated the ESPN gamecast as I saw the impossible dream look like it was fading away. When that kick went up, and NO GOOD flashed across the screen, I broke down in to joyful sobbing, and ket repeating "we are going to the Rose Bowl. Oh my god, we are going to the Rose Bowl." I drove down to Pasadena and met up with friends for the game, and seeing Hollywood Blvd swathed in purple was amazing and totally surreal. The game itself was like nothing I have experienced before or since, and while I have loved my Frogs since day one, that's when I truly fell in love with football at TCU. Something about the parade, the angry Badgers, the way they turned their backs on our band when they played the National Anthem, the sight of CDC in that awesome purple blazer, the "Go Frogs" Desmond Howard gave me pre-game, the way my parents - who never cared - called to tell me all about the game (that I had been at) and how they had watched every snap, it all stirred up so much emotion and so much pride in me, and I haven't looked back since.
I was there when we were really bad, I've watched us get really good, and I have muddled through a few seasons when we were just ok. I started in the WAC, moved on to Conference USA, loved the Mountain West, took that cup of coffee with the Big East like it was the greatest thing ever, and cried like a baby when Bob Bowlsby told us we were "coming home". I said so long to Pat Sullivan before I knew who he was, booed Fran when he took off for Tuscaloosa, and, like many others, wondered just who the heck this Gary Patterson fella was. I had a class with TCU backup Ben Dover (that's a real name), took a pic at the Flagship Carwash on University with Marshall Newhouse (who seemed surprised that I knew who he was), bought every shirt and every photo I could find after the Rose Bowl, talked my mom down when she was just so angry that we had gotten left out and didn't understand why that would happen to the Frogs - which was good for me since it took me six hours to get out of bed myself - and capped off 2015 in ATL celebrating with a bunch of happy Horned Frogs. I bookended a field storm for a win over SMU as a freshman with the same to celebrate a Big 12 Championship this past season. I have jumped with both feet on the baseball bandwagon, and have put a solid foot on the basketball one as well. I began preaching the wonders of TCU as a coach in California, and now that I am back in DFW, I get so excited when one of my students chooses to become a Horned Frog or comes and says hi at a game.
Being a member of this little community has also only served to swell my pride even more - it is a blast writing articles, interacting in the comments and on twitter, and occasionally having the pleasure to make your acquaintance in person. I hope to do that much more over the course of baseball season and on in to football this year! Go Frogs!