Starting college at The University of Akron was exciting. My dad drove me to campus early one day so I could find out what building my classes were inside and where they were located. I could see myself then, walking with my book bag through a crowd of college students outside in the sun like the brochure. All that was missing in my daydream was a student in a wheelchair and group of friends with different nationalities, laughing at the same time.
Some buildings were far apart, but it was part of the experience. I found myself often lost walking to some building called Polsky Hall. I ended up having to call my mom once I started crossing train tracks during my first Polsky Hall hunt.
The orientation leader walked us to EJ Thomas Hall, a giant music hall with a stage deserving of the two-balconies of red seats. Sculptures and beautiful art were splashed everywhere. The ceiling was a dome and painted like the sky at night. We all stood on stage as the orientation leader said, “This is the stage you will walk across on graduation day.” I stared out and imagined the crowd. All I had after our tour was our dreadful, bazillion hour-long freshman orientation. I’m exaggerating; it wasn’t that bad. It was long as hell though.
When my dad and I checked out the campus on our own, it was a ghost town because classes hadn’t started yet. The traffic was hell right out of the gates on the first day of classes. I drove round and round, parking lot to parking lot trying to find an open spot to park with the expensive parking pass hanging from my rear view mirror. It wasn’t a ghost town anymore. It was like I was on an anthill, with people scattering all directions. Was this the same campus? I had to ask for directions to every class. There I was, a college freshman student. The struggle was real.
I always found myself having liquid courage when I was drunk. I remember my first major drunk fight.
I lived with my dad, stepmom and my younger stepbrother during my freshman year of college. My dad lived in Akron, which saved me from dorm cost. I still had rules at my dad’s. He was a pretty straight shooter when it came to rules. His flat top haircut and mustache can be intimidating. We bumped heads often. He was pretty extreme on emotions, similar to myself. I wonder who I get it from.
I somehow managed to throw a party at his house. Better yet, it was a Halloween party. This meant costumes covering the bare minimum for the girls. Like most parties, a few people turned into too many people. I suppose the fliers I made were a little excessive. Oops.
The afro I wore with my disco costume was itchy. Being way under six feet tall, I enjoyed the tall-heeled shoes. I’ll admit it, I looked weird, but my giant red circle shades made me feel hidden. By the end of the night I was drink, drank, drunk. Long story short, a large fight kicked off in my front yard, and I was in the center. It started in my dad’s garage when I kicked out a group of guys with no business being there. I was drunk and at my house, so I felt powerful. I was plain out rude because I didn’t like them. We had drama when we were younger. I knew they didn’t like me either.
I was getting a cut cleaned up on my knee by my dad afterwards. I barely felt the big knot on the back of my head. I was raging with adrenaline and talking tough like I just won American Ninja Warrior. My dad was mad and annoyed. He interrupted me in front of my friends and says, “You think you’re tough? Do you think you’re some bad ass? You think you’re a fighter? You’re not a fighter until you’ve had your ass whooped and stomped.” I didn’t feel tough anymore. I hardly did much in regards to damage in the fight. Little did I know then, I would become a fighter by his standards one day.
Costume Chaos – Insight
Drinking underage is bound to happen in many cases. Put up some bumper bars once in awhile. Make your party a little more exclusive to keep out unwanted guest. I should have had someone else ask those guys to leave. It was my dad’s house, not mine. If you don’t own the house, you can’t fight there. We need to swallow our pride and respect someone’s home.
Lone Wolf On Campus
I spent most of my first year of college in the school’s recreation center. The rec center was a huge facility of The University of Akron’s, with a gym, track, basketball courts, swimming pool, a café and locker rooms. I liked working out. It helped me still feel athletic after high school sports. I went swimming whenever I wanted and played hours of pick up basketball games. Our tuition included a pass to the university’s rec center, so I used it often.
Something was missing. I wasn’t living the college experience I dreamed about. I was living at home so I had rules. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I wasn’t really sure why I was going to college. In high school, I went to school because I had to, or I would have gotten in trouble. I went to school for sports and friends. I went to school to go to college one day. In college, I lived at home so I didn’t make friends from the dorms. When you commute to college, you pretty much roam by yourself between classes. For me I either went to the rec center or the library. When I went to the library, it was either to study or sleep. There were lots of sleeping in random couches and chairs around campus. An opportunity came up to change things up for me. Little did I know, it was going to flip my life upside down.
Transfer Student Syndrome
A few of my good friends were graduating the year after I did. We were teammates on the football team. I was younger in my grade. I played a lot of sports with the grade below because kids sports were organized by age not grade. My three friends Louis, Vince and Graham decided to go to a small college in southern Ohio, Marietta College. MC is a little division III private college in a small city, in the middle of nowhere. Smaller schools like this are much easier to recruit yourself for sports. I convinced myself to go for it and try to play college football. I had watched the movie Rudy enough to daydream about playing college football, even with my size. There was a problem though. Tuition was triple the cost of Akron’s.
I applied for a few different scholarships with some help and direction from the coach and admissions office. I was granted a minority scholarship. My mom is Hispanic, so I thought I would give it a shot. It goes to show you; the answer is always no if you never ask. The year flew by. I was ready to live a childhood dream.
I spent all my time running and in the gym once I knew I was transferring. My dad had a gym in the basement, so I worked out downstairs often. I covered the wall with every Marietta letter I received in the mail. I had one particularly tough day down there that does laps on my head like the Road Runner in Looney Tunes.
I wasn’t gaining much weight and strength like usual. I started pushing myself even more, until one exercise was a little too much. I was lifting dumbbells over my head and running almost out of energy for my workout. On my last push over my head, my right shoulder made a noise like celery cracking. The dumbbell released and cracked me right in the head. I tried to move my head but failed. The hit threw me to the ground. Struggling to hold back my emotions, I laid on the basement floor and wept. It wasn’t the pain making me cry on the basement floor, it was an overwhelming frustration. I could feel the chains holding me down. I just couldn’t see them. My shoulder has popped out many times before. I took it easy for a couple weeks and carried on with pushing myself in workouts.
Practice in college started a whole month before classes started for the fall semester. The small campus was entirely empty for the first month. The only people I spent time with were my teammates. It gave me the time to creep around the buildings on campus and feel out where everything was located.
The first day was exciting. My dad packed his truck with all of my stuff going in my dorm. I hadn’t met or talked to my roommate yet. The only thing I knew about him was he was a sophomore on the football team. We checked in for football first. I had a wide wooden locker with my name across the top. It was surreal. Resting inside the locker was a folded up chair, shelves at the top and the bottom of my locker. Each locker had a brand new pair of Nike cleats still in the box. This was crazy. It started to feel legit. I could tell my dad was excited too, because he was just as hyper as I was. We both looked up to all of the tall people around us. All of the other incoming freshman players were much bigger. Nothing new to me I thought.
Bringing boxes into my new dorm felt pretty cliché. The white walls were cement. The rooms had a musky smell, like a basement. Having a roommate for the first time was different. I found out he was from New York. He was built like a basketball player. His name was Reggie. Reggie was a pretty chill guy. He didn’t stress much about the academic parts, or really even football much.
Our dorm had very small living space in our dorm rooms. The rectangle room could only fit the basics. We each had a bed, desk, and dressers. We had the beds stacked to make room for a futon couch. We had a mini fridge with a microwave stacked on top. Whatever stuff we couldn’t fit in our desks and dressers, we put in the top shelves above our skinny closets.
Since this was my second year of college, I didn’t have to stay in the freshman dorms. Louis, Vince and Graham did though. After I moved in and said my goodbyes, I went over to their dorm to check it out. That’s when I met the guys across the hall. I didn’t even have to ask, because their accents gave it away. They were in a similar situation where they all knew each other from their hometown in Boston and played football too.
Kolby was the nice guy of the group. Parker was the ladies’ man of the three, and Wyatt was the funny one. Mostly because he was the wildest person I’ve ever met. Wyatt is so crazy, once in a game he sprayed the opposite player with a water bottle after being tackled on the sideline. Oh and he also squirt the ref too. It was raining yellow flags from the zebra shirts.
Anyways, Wyatt started giving out nicknames on day one. I had blonde and red chin hair, which inspired the name people still call me today. He called me “Peaches”. He gave the other guys nicknames too but only Graham’s stuck. Since he was a big and tall guy, Wyatt renamed him “Frank”. It was pretty funny so it stuck too. Vince hadn’t shaved his mustache for a few days so Wyatt called him “Pedro” for his dark hair. We already called Vince “Vinny”, so Pedro didn’t stick. I can’t even remember what Louis’s nickname was, so it goes to show his didn’t stick either.
Playing football in college was way different than high school. Every player excelled. I was constantly in a fight and a chase to compete at practice. Between games, practices, videos, meetings, lifting, and conditioning, my days were busy from 5am to 10pm. Come Saturday night after a game, win or lose we partied.
Marietta is a small town on the Ohio River, which borders Ohio from West Virginia.
Being on my own for the first time was full of new experiences. When I arrived in Marietta, I was able to act like an adult and party out in the open. With no parents around, I didn’t have to worry about coming home drunk.
That’s the thing about college though, it is similar to drinking in high school, only with less rules. You still hide it in a way, and have an anti-authority mentality. I was under twenty-one years old and especially hid from authority like the Resident Assistants in the dorms.
Resident Assistants have to enforce rules in dorms like-
Only a certain amount of drinks in a room. Fail.
No drinking games allowed. Double Fail.
Don’t drink to the point of puking. Fail. Fail. Fail.
Dorm tip #1:
Make friends with your RA.
Dangers Of Late Night Munchies
One night I came home to my dorm drunk and had the munchies. I went for some food stashed at the top shelf above my closet. I slid my wooden desk chair across the floor. Reaching high, I lost my balance and fell sideways towards my dresser. I hit my front teeth on the edge. I’m talking full force without any brakes because my hands were reaching up high for some easy mac.
“Ouch!” The impact was solid. My mouth throbbed with pain. I was terrified to feel my teeth with my tongue. I ran to the bathroom, found a mirror over the sink, grinned to show my front teeth, and had all of my teeth still! Don’t ask me how.
I have no clue how my teeth didn’t break. I thought for sure I was about to look like I belonged on the other side of the river in the hills of West-By-Golly-Virginia.
Dangers Of Late Night Munchies – Insight
I’m very thankful I did not chip any of my teeth. Climbing and drinking apparently don’t mix well. Depending on how drunk we are, our balance will be off, and falling is a strong possibility. It may end with a laugh, but maybe not. On the bright side, you don’t need all of your teeth to chew on macaroni noodles.
Dorm tip #2:
Keep your munchies within easy reach.
Punch For Payment
Parties down in Marietta College were predictable. The town had two main bars to party at when we went out. The bars were practically across the street from each other, and only a few blocks walk from campus.
A senior on the football team shared a house with a few of his friends on the baseball team. This was the party house. After every game, everyone went to his house at night and then everyone would head out to the bars around midnight.
One night they threw a kegger party after…..
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