One specific family vacation stands out in my childhood memory bank. My mom, sister, and I took a trip to Universal Studios in Florida and then boarded a Caribbean cruise. For as much fun as I had during the trip, what I remember most is sitting in the airport waiting to board my plane back to Ohio. I was doing my grumpy/pouty thing– which I’m quite good at when I try– and was generally killing all the warm fuzzy happy family karma that had accumulated during the vacation. As I got up and stomped toward the restroom I saw a sign that has stayed with me: “Don’t be sad it’s over. Be glad it happened.” To this day, I still come to a standstill when I think of those words.
As of yesterday morning, I officially accepted a position with Miami University. Effective the second week in August, I will become an Assistant Director within the University Advancement Department, bringing my employment with Chi Psi to an end. Although I am thrilled about this opportunity, I can’t help but to reflect on my time working for Chi Psi. What follows are an assortment of my fondest memories and a few personal thank yous…
Alpha Alpha Delta– my first ever visit was to a dwindling Alpha Alpha Delta (UGA) in August of 2009. It was my first day on the job, so I was looking sharp, but way overdressed, in my dress pants and dress shirt. I pulled into the parking lot and was greeted by a group of guys in mid-thigh shorts, with visors and croakies on. I felt like I had been sent back in time. They had lined the bed of a pick up truck with a blue tarp and were filling it with water. Huh? “It’s sorority bid day. We’re making a redneck hot tub that we’re going to sit in as we drive around Athens. “ Um, okay. So there I was completely confused, but trying to play it cool. Secretly I’m thinking “Where in the world am I? What in the world have I gotten myself into.” We piled in the truck and proceeded to take in the shrieking, cheering, and beauty of sorority bid day in Athens. I felt like I was on an African safari; excuse me, an Athenian safari. Bizarre, but unforgettable.
Psi Delta Initiation– Arguably the most poignant experience of the last three years was the weekend of August 27, 2011. On this weekend, 38 new Chi Psis were welcomed into the Bonds as Alpha Psi Delta was officially re-installed as an Alpha of Chi Psi. The first thing that stands out to me was the first night, before things started, and I was standing there in the Lodge. Working for Chi Psi, I’ve been fortunate to acquire many father-like figures who I work with while on the road. That first night, I was standing in the Psi Delta lodge– where I had spent so much time in the previous 18 months– with three of my dearest alumni Brothers: Joe Hughes, Paul Braswell, and Bill Royce. It was almost surreal to have three Brothers who mean so much to me there to help culminate such a meaningful project. The other thing that I will always remember, was hanging out on the front lawn after we finished. The smiles, and tears, on everyone’s faces were overwhelming. After the refounding class gathered to take a photo on the front steps, we began to hammer in the C-H-I-P-S-I above the front entrance, officially branding 1080 14th street as “The Lodge.” Even as I’m writing this, I’m getting choked up thinking about how honored I was to get to affix a letter to the Lodge. Of all the pictures I took that day, the one below with Advisory Board leaders Mike Whipple and Eric Scanniello is the one I cherish most. Those two did amazing things for that Colony/Alpha.
Alpha Eta Delta– one of the last Alpha visits I ever made was to Alpha Eta Delta at the University of Oregon. While there, I had the pleasure of helping initiate seven new Chi Psis, including two legacies. But what I remember most was what happened on Saturday night with my good friend, and former #1 Will Stinman. Will and I first met in August of 2008 at Convention as undergraduate roommates, so it was only fitting that we should be reunited four years later for some mischief. We met up at Max’s, a local establishment, with a handful of other Chi Psis in tow. For a visual, Max’s is a narrow bar that extends a a couple hundred feet back away from the street. The bar is on the right side and the left side is lined with old wooden booths which leave little room for walking in the middle. Come 1am, the bar has a signature playlist of sing-alongs that everyone knows and sings to: “Living on a Prayer”, “Sweet Caroline”, you get the idea. Being the singing gentlemen that we are, we took the lead in standing on our seats, putting our arms around each other and singing (this is customary). For about an hour, we sang our hearts out, but as it always does, the music stopped. I looked at Will and said “just go with me on this one.” I slowly started clapping my hands and quacking– Oregon Ducks, hello– and the other Chi Psis soon followed. In short order, the whole bar started quacking (Mighty Ducks style), which at that point was probably 150 people. As the quacking grew ever fast we let out a loud “Gooooooo DUCKS!” which was followed by a huge cheer. Just awesome.
Epsilon Initiation Banquet– In January 2011 I had the honor of attending the Alpha Epsilon Initiation banquet. The event was held at the historic Detroit Club and was attended by about 75 Epsilon Brothers, both alumni and undergraduate. During the cocktail hour I had a great time catching up with Brothers Heil, Crow, etc and sharing stories. What I will always remember, though, is what happened next… The banquet was held in the third floor ballroom, which meant that everyone needed to make their way upstairs from the first-floor reception. “Attention, everyone, walk upstairs” would have sufficed, right? Here’s what they did. Starting at the third floor landing, the Brothers lined up in rank order so that the oldest Brothers were near the top and the youngest Brothers at the bottom. After everyone was in line, on their own step, and in order, the men from the bottom began to ascend the stairs, giving each more senior a greeting. In doing this, I was greeted by every Brother younger than I, and got to greet every Brother older than I. When everyone had reached the third floor landing, we entered the ballroom. Coolest thing ever!
To Sam Bessey, thank you for trusting your staff to do what they do best. More than that, thank you for being such a great role model in and out of the office.
To Donald Beeson, thank you for always having an answer.
To Brad Beskin, there’s never a dull moment with you. Thanks for taking me under your wing, coaching me about being a young professional, and showing me how to do it with style. You’re the man.
To Teri Forsythe, you are a saint. You are absolutely perfect for the Central Office and you do such great work. Keep everyone in line, k?
To Nick Dokich, Jordan Fiasca, and Justin Zolot, tune the world out and be where you are. Engage. What you say and do (believe it or not) does matter to people. If you make a difference for just one person a day, you did your job. Leave things better than you found them. And if you ever run short on courage while on campus, just think, “when am I ever going to see any of these people again?” If that doesn’t work, call someone whose last name starts with a ‘B’. They’ll know what to do.
To Jeff Manzer, Nick, Gilly, Derek Taylor, and Justin Froeber… I don’t even know where to start. All I can do is smile, shake my head, and look forward to next time.
“I honestly can say that over time I’ve come to love you. Now we are Brothers and together no one can touch us.”