I remember the first time I ever saw Gary Patterson walk into a room. I was in the weight room, a freshman walk-on track and field member in August 2001. I was working through a foot injury, and I was using an elliptical machine when he walked into the room. Admittedly, my first thought was how short he was for a football coach (sorry, Coach P). My second thought was that the room seemed to come to a stop. This was mainly due to the fact that football players made up the majority of the room. But several other teams were there, too, and it seemed as though everyone stopped to take notice of the new Head Football Coach. It was Gary Patterson’s first year in the lead coaching position, having taken over for Dennis Franchione, who left to Alabama. You could tell he already had the respect of his players by the way they turned their attention to him.
I had been in conversation with a guy named Reggie Harrell—a redshirt freshman wide receiver who went up for a pass in practice and took a hit that caused him to injure his knee. He underwent surgery and was riding a stationary bike next to me when Patterson entered the room. As the fall continued, things changed: I ultimately left the track team due to my foot injury; Reggie ended up sitting out the entire season; and Coach Patterson led the team to a 6-6 season (4-3 in conference), with a Bowl game loss to Texas A&M in Houston. I should also note that a game against Marshall was cancelled that season after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Fast forward a few years and I graduated in 2004 and moved to California. I returned 10 years later with a husband, daughter, and dog, and learned about the Meet the Frogs event. I didn’t get to go last year, so I set my mind to going this year. It wasn’t until Friday night that I realized Meet the Frogs was this weekend. My husband insisted I go this year (probably so he didn’t have to hear me complain about missing it for another year), so we loaded up the minivan (yes, minivan) and headed out.
If you’ve never been to MTF, it’s a great event, especially for kids. People were lining up an hour before it started at 1,
The meet the frogs line is already about to be around the corner and it's an hour out— Ty Barrett #78 (@TyBarret) August 27, 2016
but the event was well-organized. After walking in and grabbing two posters, I faced a few choices: line up to meet the Offense, line up to meet the defense, line up to meet Coach P, shop for merchandise, or take pictures with the team uniforms. There were people everywhere.
I chose Coach P. I got in line around 1:10 and met up with fellow FOW Writer Mason and his buddy Andrew. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. I attempted to entertain them with what it was like to go to school back in the early 2000s—when there was no BLUU, Chick-fil-A, Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility, or parking garages. My major (Criminal Justice) was based out of a trailer. Andrew finally asked, “Where did you eat?” And I honestly couldn’t remember eating anywhere but the cafeteria in the old Student Center and grabbing a donut from a cart in the old library. An hour later, we were almost to Coach P. And I looked up, and standing in the middle of the field was a familiar face: Reggie Harrell. I hadn’t seen him since my senior year, but he looked exactly the same.
And then it was time to see Coach P. He signed a poster for my dad, a poster for me, and we took a picture together. I’m sure his hand was cramping by then, and the lines were even longer than when I got there. But he never stopped smiling, took time to greet everyone who came to see him, and had kind words. He thanked me for the cup I made him,
@TCUCoachP, where should I send this?? pic.twitter.com/U3Ocj5H1H3— Deanna Rust (@RustFamily) June 22, 2016
and then our visit was over. As I looked around me, I saw the names up on the wall: Boyce, Dalton, Dawson, Verrett. I saw the Award Winners: O’Brien, Tomlinson, Hughes, Boykin. I saw the words on the walls that are more than hashtags: Time to Step Up, Leave No Doubt, Passion, Class...and I’m reminded that things have come full circle. I haven’t been in the same room as Reggie Harrell and Coach P in 15 years, but today I was. The names of the players sitting at those tables has changed over time, but the Frog Fam is forever. Thank you to all of the players, family members, coaches, and staff members for taking time for all of us fans today. It was a nice reminder that, no matter where you go, you can always come back to TCU. And TCU Football. Always TCU Football.