Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Coaches' Mentoring Challenge, OPSU

OPSU stadium, north side
Seize the day (Carpe diem.) and venture forth with excitement!

We did not realize how well-planned, fun, and professional the mentor recognition at Oklahoma Panhandle State University would be when Russell Gaskamp, the OPSU's head football coach, invited us to represent the Coaches' Mentoring Challenge at a game on September 20, 2014. (Goodwell is near Guymon in the Panhandle.) This event offered another chance to experience closely-knit and inclusively-caring western Oklahoma. Read a OPSU press release about the experience in the next blog.

On the east side of the field, a few lucky attendees watched from
 lawn chairs and enjoyed free pizza. 

Coach Gaskamp had ordered part of the street in front of the football stadium entrance to be blocked off with orange plastic cones. This area was designated for a professional, custom-made grill on a trailer and a place for the Coaches' Mentoring Challenge display, anchored by an Oklahoma State University pop-up since OPSU is part of the OSU system. As planned, everyone had to walk by the barbecue, a sensory extravaganza, and the CMC display to enter the game.

Meeting the Coach
As we arrived, coming down the street was a hulk of a man with a six-foot table easily held above his head. Welcoming and kind, he made sure that anything we needed was provided and that we could have free barbecue upon request. Later, when the wind scattered paperwork for previously paid orders for the barbecue, the coach went over to help gather them. Other coaches followed his lead, too. We liked the coaches and their quick reaction. In addition, the players and students we encountered were polite and well-behaved. Imagining someone misbehaving with Coach Gaskamp around is impossible.

Ashby Williams in red shirt with friend and family
The barbecue was a fundraiser for the OPSU softball team. The family of Ashby Williams, one of the players from Amarillo, Texas, grills competitively and professionally. The family even took 120 orders for smoked pork loin at a previous game, froze the cooked meat, and delivered it. 

This game day they had generous portions of delicious barbecue sandwiches with sides for attendees. Food fundraisers are popular in Oklahoma, but this food was definitely competition quality. Inside the stadium gate, traditional concession food earned money for the athletic program, too. The alumni association was selling items also. Games can be expensive!

Introducing the Team
Every team has its own special entrance ritual. At OPSU, two motorcyclists ride onto the field and rev their engines as the game announcer also revs up the audience. Team mentors run between the two motorcycles and through a banner. 

 Keila, mentee; Maribel Mesta, Keila’s mentor; 
Melyn Johnson; and Cassi Jo Schriefer
Prior to the game, almost every seven minutes, the game announced would interrupt the lively music to announce that HALO, mentors, and the Coaches' Mentoring Challenge would be honored at half-time. During the half-time ceremonies, the Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) athletes were recognized on the field and then Coach Gaskamp's pre-recorded encouragement to mentor was played. After his message, a brief recording of the representatives from the local mentoring groups were played, and the mentors and mentees in the stadium recognized. 

To read the script and hear the recording, click upon "Public Service Announcements," lower right of the box, at 
HALO athletes are recognized during half-time, one by one.

In June, we had held a Magical Mentoring Tour in Guymon. Main Street Guymon, directed by Melyn Johnson, had established Main Street Transformers mentoring program. This year with Cassi Jo Schriefer, Main Street launched Cassie's Kids, a mentoring program for middle school-age girls. Texas County Family YMCA was another program honored. Melyn Johnson, in the same Rotary Club as Coach Gaskamp, planted the initial idea of mentor recognition. 

By the way, OPSU won the game!

Thanks, Coach! Thanks to the community, too, for supporting its own area youths.

From under our OSU pop-up,
looking opposite the stadium
to the field house
where the team assembled.


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