This game left me much more happy than the previous few games the Bears have had. I’ll try not to go too over the top, but I think that this is the kind of game that can really jump start Baylor’s season and propel them to finish strong.
When I started writing this I was hoping to fit the activities of homecoming, key points from the game, and the stories from the Baylor Line in one story, but that just isn’t going to happen. I could do it, but it would be way too long and the last thing I want is for you to lose interest in this, because of length. So, for the first time, the BLR is going to be split into two parts! This part I’ll respectfully name the BHR. (Baylor Homecoming Report)
First off, let’s talk about homecoming activities as a freshman. (Baylor Line Report= you hear about freshmen life) Last weekend was my first ever Baylor University Homecoming and it was a blast. It was kicked off by the Freshman Mass Meeting that took place in Waco Hall where we learned more about the story of “The Immortal 10” I had already known a little about the Immortal 10, but I was very humbled after hearing the entire story, especially when the speaker telling us the story said he had met the driver of the bus that was struck, and to this day he still gets emotional and can’t come to talk about those that were lost, and are now remembered by the beautiful memorial statue that sits in the Vera Martin Plaza.
The story about the Immortal 10 is what ended Mass Meeting before we all went to Fountain Mall and made the Bonfire. Despite all of that though, the thing that may very well have had the biggest impact on all the freshmen that filled Waco Hall, including myself, was the speech given by former Baylor football coach Grant Teaff. Teaff talked about his ability to revive the Baylor Bears football program after he took the job. He then went on to talk about the story of Kyle Woods, a player of his from Dallas in 1979. Woods was a 19-year-old kid playing for the Bears when he went to make a tackle in a scrimmage head first, and after his effort to make the tackle, did not get up. Woods broke his neck that day and was paralyzed from the neck down. Woods still stayed a part of the team though and the next season Baylor was to play Clemson in the Peach Bowl and Woods was able to make it out to the game. Teaff wasn’t sure what to say to the team before the game since they were just coming off of a loss that took them out of the running to play for the national championship, so he put Woods on the spot.
"Kyle was in our dressing room in a wheel chair before that game," said Scott Smith. "I remember thinking that here was a young man who had lost everything, and here we were talking about losing a silly game. Then just before we went out on the field, Kyle pushed himself up from that wheel chair -- we didn't think he could do that -- and as a couple of guys helped him he actually walked a few steps. And I can still remember what he told us: 'Guys, you have to take a setback and make it into a comeback.'”
You have to take a setback and make it into a comeback. Those are the words that resonated with me throughout the entire weekend. The feeling of Teaff’s speech may be summed up best by one of my friends who said that he wanted to “run through a brick wall” after hearing it. I couldn’t blame him. Teaff was then given a standing ovation by all in attendance. After about 15 seconds of applause, Teaff came back out to the podium, looked around at everyone in their line jerseys cheering for him, and said, “I could coach this team” and walked away. That then garnered more applause. If the Bears ever needed an emotional pick-me-up, I think Teaff would have to be the guy they turn to. His speech was truly fantastic, and got the entire crowd genuinely excited.
Friday’s main events were the extravaganza that took place in Fountain Mall along with the bonfire. Fountain Mall had the look of a mini fair with booths offering funnel cakes and corn dogs, barbecue, and even a Ferris wheel. All of this was there throughout Friday night along with a concert that followed the football team’s pep rally. Just a side note, you alumni will probably laugh at me, I was one of the people who had the bright idea of being really close to the bonfire. I heard that you could feel the heat from really far away, but I didn’t really take that to heart. So I stood pretty close to watch them light it and shortly after it was lit had to start working my way back into the crowd, because it felt as if my face was on fire. Needless to say, I learned my lesson that you don’t have to be in the very front. It was still an awesome experience though, and quite the spectacle to see that was topped off with fireworks at some point in the night.
All of this then lead up to the biggest and longest lasting collegiate homecoming parade in the nation. I hadn’t been to a parade since I was six or seven years old so I was pretty excited to see this one. Everyone got up early and lined up as far as I could see from my spot right outside of Penland. While the parade was great, one of the floats stalled making the turn onto 5th street for the home stretch and held up the entire parade for maybe 30-50 minutes. (I guess it was just a sign of things to come) Ironically enough, the float that stalled was the Class A float winner. They were unable to move this float, so the parade was re-routed to go through the alleyway between Penland and the tennis courts. Those that are aware of this spot on campus know that that is not a very wide area for big floats to be going through. Needless to say it created a lot of problems for the floats not only getting through the space, but then making the sharp turn on to 5th street. A few floats bottomed out, some hit the stop sign, and some took some damage on the turn, but I was very impressed by the few that were able to successfully manage the turn. The most fun though was probably watching members from the Chamber running around trying to get people off the streets and tell the people actually in the parade to move faster to keep the parade going. This then caused for the very pretty girls in the Homecoming Court to hold on for dear life as the Dodge Vipers they were on suddenly accelerated to keep pace with the parade. (Not all had Dodge Vipers, but there were a lot of them) It also caused those walking in the parade to then have to pick up the pace. I felt worse for the girls in the dance team, because their ride was leaving them in the dust as they struggled to keep up.
Despite the parade having a slight hiccup, it was still a lot of fun. The whole homecoming experience was a lot of fun. I was very tired after the weekend, but it was definitely well worth it. It definitely made me proud to call Baylor my home, and definitely will make me want to “come home” at this time every year once I graduate.