I have two degrees: a Bachelor’s of Music Education at the University of Oklahoma and a high school diploma from Norman High School. I’m very proud of my bachelor’s degree and of being an OU grad. But for a long time I didn’t think much of being a graduate of NHS. “So I went to high school”, I would think, “big deal”.
I was never exactly proud to be a Tiger when I was there. I loved being in the music program, and I was proud of that, but I never really cheered our teams on and isn’t that at the heart of Tiger pride? Sports? To many, at least, that is true. Yes, I played my tuba at the games and flirted with the flute player I eventually married, but I didn’t really care much about the game. I didn’t really know much about football and still don’t. I thought of Tiger pride as something reserved for the cool kids; the kids in the student section getting out of hand while we played “In a Godda Da Vida”.
To be honest, I don’t even know if those were the “cool kids” or not. I’m not even sure what that means anymore. All I really knew then, though, was that I wasn’t one of them. But then something happened many years later. My wife gave birth to two Norman Tigers. They too joined the band and played at football games. We became band parents. I came to games and helped setup and take down. We watched and cheered and visited with the other parents many of whom were NHS grads as well. Now the players and the students were just kids to me, hoping to be adults soon. And I’m a dad who cares about kids and about Norman High.
Now my kids are out of high school and we’re no longer band parents. But something is different. I’m proud of my diploma. Not everyone earned one. I worked very hard for it. And I’m proud to be a Tiger. NHS is a fantastic school with fantastic teachers, administrators, and students. And now our new phase begins. My wife and I can be that couple who comes to games and concerts not because we have kids in the program, but simply because we’re Norman Tigers and good Norman citizens.
You see, I love living in Norman. I intend to live all the rest of my days here. In Norman, there is so much to be proud of and so much to be a part of. I have both my alma maters here and all that they offer to the community. Norman has a great music scene. And if I ever became a big sports fan, wow, so many sports. We have a fantastic community theatre for me to see or to perform in. Great food. Many wonderful festivals. It is a vibrant community and always will be.
Last night, my wife and I went to the first NHS football game since our kids left high school. We saw the first half of the Crosstown Clash with Norman North. We loved the energy in OU’s stadium where the game was played. I just don’t think adults get as a excited as kids. It’s good to be around. We cheered them on and especially the band. And then, when it got a little too late for us, we got to walk through our college campus. “Of campus beautiful by day and night” so our school song goes. It was a beautiful night full of love for both my alma maters.
It was a good moment to reflect on what alma mater means to me. It means that all the work I did, all the friends I made, all of the experiences my class shared, and all of the legacy we inherited has left a permanent print on me that connects me to who I once was and who I’ve become. It’s my choice whether I’m proud of that, and I have chosen to be a proud Tiger.