Editors Note: A very important thing to note, before you read this article. You do NOT have to be an alumni, to be a member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. Great news, huh!? LOTS of parents join!
One of my most treasured moments after graduating from Ole Miss, was the time that I could slap the signature “Ole Miss Alumni” sticker on the back of my car. How grown up I felt! I’ve since exchanged that sticker for local Oxford Charger booster decals, but still, anytime I’m traveling and I see that square red and blue sticker, I boast with pride. The further I get from Oxford, the louder I’ll get and even sometimes try to get their attention. Come on… you know when you’re in South Florida vacationing and see any resemblance of God’s Country, you get excited too!?
One thing you get (or really don’t) as a local Oxonian, is that alumni experience camaraderie. We live and breathe Ole Miss, every day. From a student flying past you on Highway 6, to standing behind them in line at South Depot, speaking at a class of theirs on campus or even inviting them into our home to babysit, they are here amongst us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – constantly being around students really does keep me young and gives us Oxonian alumni that sense of Ole Miss camaraderie.
But our Ole Miss Alumni Clubs are an imperative part of the Ole Miss family. My very first job after college, I worked for the University Foundation as a fundraiser. They sent me to the Texas Alumni Club meetings with Sparky Reardon (Dean of Students), Clay Cavett (Alumni Association) and Walker Jones (Football Coach - who ironically, I now live in the house he built while here!?). I fondly call this trip the “Colonel Reb Farewell Tour.” When we took off from Memphis, we thought we were going to just do our job out west. I was sitting next to Sparky on the plane, when he opened up USA Today and the headline read “Ole Miss Musters Out Colonel Rebel.” An explicit later, I knew Sparky didn’t know this was coming. We landed, and he placed a call to “Uncle Bob” aka Chancellor Robert Khaytt. It was a quick call, but the end result was “This is official. Go with it.”
Now what we know about Texas is, nothing is small and opinions are not short. That night we hosted what was supposed to be a fun alumni “get together” turned into an hours long Q&A session and us trying to mend some very fresh wounds and relationships. Then we did it again the next night in Houston…and again the next night in San Antonio.
But the irony in the story is how connected these Alumni Clubs are. While in San Antonio that night, I stood the back and met a fabulous lady named Nancy. She was giving me her opinion on Colonel Reb and I listened. We became instant friends. Upon return, I put together the pieces that her husband’s family was from the Philadelphia, PA area. And didn’t my mom use to host Ole Miss Alumni parties at our house in Riverton, NJ? I called my mom, told her who I’d met: Yup, her in-laws use to come to our house to watch Ole Miss games. This is a small world.
Jump forward to 2018, my mom co -leads the Alumni Club in Tampa Bay, where they get together every game at a local restaurant. In the off months, they gather for nights watching the Tampa Bay Devil Rays together. They keep their Facebook active (key!) with local Oxford and Ole Miss info.
Today, there are more than 70 alumni clubs across the country. You can find yours here. At a cost of $150 for 4 years, there are many benefits to being a member. However, to me, the camaraderie is by far the best advantage for all you parents who can’t make it to every game in Oxford. Hotty Toddy!