Court Street: my favorite place in Athens

Between the crowds of students, the look and feel of red Athens blocks, and the unique shops and local restaurants that line it, there is nothing quite like Court Street in Athens, Ohio. My own father, a 1984 alumnus of the communications school, always told me, “it is like a whole other world down there.” I never truly understood what he meant until I visited Athens for the first time when I was touring the Ohio University campus with my family back in 2012, but after I saw Court Street for myself, I knew exactly what he had meant.

Court street has a feeling that is special, there is something unique and indescribable about its character. It is my favorite place in Athens because it is the heart and soul of the city. This is where the culture and conversation of the town has been originating since 1804. The history and charisma of this place can be felt by walking up and down the brick lined sidewalks of Court Street. So many generations of students and staff have had unforgettable college experiences on that street, growing up and growing together as a community. Court Street feels as though it is part of Ohio University because of its architecture and closeness to the campus.

Court Street only stretches for about a half mile, but that is all it needs to be one of the most picturesque and charming I have ever seen. Somehow it gives you the feeling of being in a lively city without ever losing that small-town charm that Athens has. Running into friends or professors, attending nationally recognized events like the Halloween parade with 25-foot-tall puppets and live music, or going to the Ohio Brew Week, there is always something new and exciting happening on Court Street.

Students and staff walking down Court Street

Local businesses like The Athena Cinema, Bagel Street Deli, Casa Nueva, or Tony’s Tavern make Court Street and Athens a one of a kind destination. These shops give the street a home-grown, connected community feeling that I have not experienced anywhere else.

Taking a stroll down Court Street never fails to remind me of just how lucky I am to be in a place like this and that it will not last forever. It is my favorite place in Athens because I know it will be where I come back to when I visit my fellow Bobcats in the future as an alumnus, just like my brother and my father before me. The street reminds me of the bonds that I have made here and the relationships that I will never forget with some of my best friends in the world.

Court Street and college green were the first two places in Athens that I saw, they left me in awe, giving me an affinity towards the town and the University. These places made me want to be part of the Bobcat legacy. They are still a large reason why I have such a strong affiliation to this place today. Court street has helped me to grow both socially and professionally as a human being. My favorite place in Athens has taught me life skills that I will take with me forever from this community.

5 throwback traditions at Ohio University

OU students pride themselves in having raucous, memorable traditions, and it is probably because they learned from the best. Alumni came out in droves to share their favorite campus traditions.

  1. The Bagel Buggy – Now days there is Big Mamma’s, but in the 1970s and 1980s the Bagel Buggy was the go to food cart for students who were hungry and probably slightly intoxicated. The strawberry jelly and cream cheese bagel was a fan favorite.
  2. Green Fests – Back before there was Mill, High, and Palmer fest, there were the Green Fests. Each green had it’s own giant fest, leading up to the ultimate Springfest, which was held on the soccer fields by South Green . Prior to 1987 the drinking age in Ohio was 18, so students would fund raise all year and hold the fests on campus. Alum Lena Niro, who graduated in 1986, said that one year East Green’s fest went through 304 kegs of beer!
  3. The Graffiti Wall – This is one tradition that has not changed much. According to several alumni leaving your mark on the graffiti wall at the top of Richland Avenue has been the big thing to do for over 40 years.

    8456908531_e31f995090_z
    An aerial view of Court Street from the 1970s.s.
  4. Broomball – This one is a bit of a surprise but apparently in the early to mid 1980s intramural broomball took campus by storm. Students would play at midnight in Byrd Arena.
  5. Court Street Shuffle – Finally, a large majority of the alumni said their favorite tradition was the Court Street shuffle. The drinking age has gone up, and some of the bars have come and gone, but Ohio University students will always love a drunken bar crawl down the best street in the world.

Check out the alumni Facebook group to see other favorite traditions!

How to Homecoming like an OU alumnus

Late afternoon on Thursday, October 8, a holiday of sorts began for students and alumni of Ohio University. Traffic started to thicken around 5 p.m. on Court Street and continued through the weekend while the alumni made their way hOUme and current Bobcats welcomed back their favorite alumni. With only a few days to enjoy things they’ve missed most about Athens, alumni planned out their time accordingly and most don’t sleep.

Daniella Vaccari, a 2014 Ohio University graduate who lives in Chicago, celebrated her second Homecoming as an alum this past weekend. “I love coming back to Athens because it’s one of the most special places in the world. It’s where I found out who I was, and made memories with the most important people in my life,” she said.

Like most alumni, Vaccari had specific “go to” stops when she arrived in Athens. First, she made sure to swing by her old sorority house because during her time here she experienced some of her greatest memories there. “During college my sorority sisters and friends were like family,” she said.

Additionally, she spent a large portion of time at the Crystal, her favorite bar, that opened at 6 a.m. Saturday morning to serve mimosas and host a warm place for partiers to gather after an early morning of Kegs and Eggs. Unique to this weekend visit, Vaccari didn’t sleep. “I have to make sure I see everyone and do everything possible in such a short visit,” she said. Big Mamma’s Burritos, another important stop, is the food that fueled Vaccari’s sleepless weekend.

Robert Etherington, a 1989 graduate, is a bit more seasoned than Vaccari in his Homecoming visits. This weekend was his 16th back on the bricks to celebrate. “As soon as I see the campus I feel like I’m home again. There is no place on earth I feel more a part of,” Etherington said.

His experience has changed over the years. He used to pull the relentless all nighters like Vaccari and although he gets less sleep than usual, Etherington makes sure to get a few hours of rest. No matter what, he makes his vital stops at Paw Purrs, The Pub and JackieO’s with his old college buddies. “When I see friends from college and we are in Athens, it’s like we never left,” he said. Tailgating in Tailgate Park by the Hocking River and watching the Bobcats take on Miami was one of his and his college buddies favorite Saturday activities.

From recent graduates to graduates 26 years removed, the magic of Athens is alive during Homecoming Weekend. Amongst multiple activities and celebrations, alumni and current students celebrate the Bobcat Family and appreciate the relationships that Athens creates and fosters. “When I come back to Athens and when I’m with Athens again it’s like I never left,” Vaccari said.

The transition of Baker University Center

Over the years Ohio University’s Baker Student Center has always been the place for most student-centered activities.  It was named after the school’s fourteenth president, John Calhoun Baker, who assumed the position in 1945.

When he became president, OU grew tremendously in reputation and size, therefore there was the need for a new student center to accommodate the growing Bobcat population to replace what they had, called the Student Union.  It was located at the current site of School of Communications.

A committee headed by a psychology lecturer was set up to start the preliminary preparations for the project. In fall of 1947, student leadership initiated a campaign to facilitate the process.  Petitions were circulated and about 4,000 students appended their signatures to pay an extra five dollars toward the new construction.  They collected over $160,000.

State Legislature and a host of other groups donated toward the Baker dream.  It was to be the school’s largest building at the time, with six floors.

By 1948, plans were advanced to put up the $1,357,795 “unique” OU center.  The aim was to “give a well-rounded experience in university life.”

Source: Ohio University Archives
The $1,357,795 “unique” OU Center Source:

Bellman, Gillette and Richards of Toledo designed the building, which was an example of Georgian architecture.  This was because the University wanted to “keep with the architectural scheme of buildings.”

Several buildings around the area, including O’Bleness cottages, Faculty Club, Veteran-housing units were razed to give way to the ultramodern student center, which was to have a frontage stretch of 138 feet along the East Union Street facing College Green.

After demolishing the old Baker Center (Student Union), work commenced on the new edifice.  By summer of 1953, the building was ready for the celebration of the university’s sesquicentennial on February 18, 1954.  It as a dream come true for both students and faculty as the school lacked a place for entertainment and recreational purposes.

The floors:

Basement:

This had the game room for the students.  It had eight bowling lanes, 15 billiard tables, 3 table tennis tables, cards and football. It was also the location for campus lost and found.

One of the lounges of old Baker Center
One of the lounges of old Baker Center

Ground floor:

This area housed a café called The Frontier Room.  The café was opened to all university personnel up to midnight and beyond.  They served snacks and meals all day and into the night, including beer.

The Frontier Room was for relaxation and a feel of the open fire.

 

 

First floor:

This area was dedicated to the University Information Center, 1804 Lounge, 1954 Lounge, the University Club and a place called A Sculpture for scholarship trophies.

In the University Club, the dress code was dining room coats and ties for men and skirts for women.

Second floor:

This floor had offices of the Director of Baker, Auditor, Duplicating Services and secretary in charge of reservations. It also had meeting rooms, TV lounge, large ballroom and an art gallery.

Some of the lounges in Old Baker Center.
Some of the lounges in Old Baker Center.

Third and fourth floors:

These floors had offices for student organizations including student government, dean of student activities, International student lounge, Directors of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs and the center program board.

The New Baker Center:

In 2000, the idea for a high-tech university center was presented by the student senate partly because the old Baker was far north of campus.  They wanted a building quite centered on the campus for easier access from all parts of campus.

By February 2004, the Ohio University Board of Trustees approved the 60 million dollar project. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in March of 2004.  In January 2007, the current Baker Center was opened.  With the same Georgian design, the facility has won awards including two Golden Trowel awards from the International Masonry Institute. In 2008 Baker University Center was awarded the grand prize with honors from Learning by Design and Best Project in Ohio for its terrazzo floor art.

Photo credit: Ohio University Archives

The band’s back together: reminiscing with Marching 110 alums

Nostalgia and excitement swirled together in the air Saturday as Bobcats, old and new, filled the seats of Peden Stadium for the Homecoming game. The weekend’s festivities were in full swing as I spoke with some of the Marching 110’s alumni on the sidelines, where they were confident and excited to be taking the field as they had in the past.

Some were going over their routine one last time, twisting and turning in time, while others chatted with old friends. As they waited, their reminiscing whisked them away to days gone by.

It seemed that every band member had a story to tell, and they did not disappoint. One graduate of the class of 2012, Derek Fulk, said he remembered his freshman Homecoming game where he was able to play together with his older brother, a 2003 graduate, when he returned to the field with the other alumni. Due to the age difference, Fulk hadn’t been able to march in a band with his brother before.

“Marching with my brother was priceless,” said Fulk.

Another woman, Kristi Moore, was proud to say that she met her current husband while marching together. Moore, who graduated in 1999, played the clarinet and her future husband played the snare drum. The long practices and bus rides may have been a factor in their budding romance, but Moore joked that they “probably met at a band party.”

It was clear to see the Marching 110 was still an “exhilarating” part of their lives. Every alum said the same thing — they were and always will be a family. They also laughed about the rigorous practices and how worth it they were.

“The games, the crowds, that’s where they payoff was. That’s what made it worth it,” said Clinton Harris, a graduate of 2000.

Harris went on to say the band made it possible for him to play in amazing places like OSU’s stadium, Toronto, and even the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which he called “the best five miles of cold weather” he’d experienced.

“The band has taken me many places, but I always come back,” said Harris, who has only missed two Homecoming games since graduation.

The alums all agreed that the most noticeable changes to campus were the new buildings that occupied ground previously held by little more than grass. They also said that no matter how much the campus changes physically, the people were still as genial and welcoming as ever.

“There might be new buildings and dorms, but there’s still the same great people,” said Harris.

As the clock ticked down closer to halftime, the alum gathered their gear and prepared to storm the field and show the fans that they still had the 110 spirit. The second quarter ended and the Bobcats had a strong lead of 17-3 against the dreaded Miami Redhawks.

Even though the game had paused, the fans did not. They rose to greet the 110 alums with a wild roar as the graduates stepped onto familiar ground. While they may have moved onto the next chapter in their lives, they still relished the opportunity to perform for their Bobcat family.

“Just because you leave Athens doesn’t mean you stop calling it home,” said Moore.

Top 5 famous Ohio University alumni

Since Ohio University was established more than two hundred years ago, millions of students have roamed the streets of Athens. The bricks that make up these streets echo the footsteps of all those students – but some of these footsteps are more recognizable than others. These are just a few of the more famous Ohio University alumni who have come before us.

Thom BrennamanThom Brennaman

Son of Marty Brennaman, the famous Cincinnati Reds radio sportscaster, Thom attended Ohio University after graduating from Anderson High School in Cincinnati. As a Bobcat, he was president of Beta Kappa and worked for a local radio station. After graduating, he took a cue from his father by becoming the voice of the Reds on television.

 

Matt LauerMatt Lauer

A native New Yorker, Matt actually dropped out of the School of Telecommunications in 1979. He returned to OU to attain his degree when he was 39 years old. He is now famously known as the host of The Today Show. He has also previously worked for ESPN, HBO Entertainment News, and NBC News. One of his most beloved segments on The Today Show is Where in the World is Matt Lauer? This, of course, is modeled after the game show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? You may also recognize Matt from his cameos in the movies Sharknado and Sharknado 2 or his prank wars with Ellen DeGeneres earlier this year.

 

Nancy CartwrightNancy Cartwright

The voice of Bart Simpson from The Simpsons grew up in Kettering, Ohio, where she attended Fairmont West High School. She was active in public speaking competitions throughout her high school years and later during her college years at OU as well. She only attended OU for one year, after which she transferred to the University of California in Los Angeles and obtained a degree in theater. Along with Bart Simpson, she has also created the voices of Chuckie Finster (Rugrats), Mindy (Animaniacs), and Rufus the Naked Mole-Rat (Kim Possible). In 2012, Nancy returned to the hills of Athens to give the undergraduate commencement address.

 

Ed O'NeillEd O’Neill

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Ed attended OU for history on a football scholarship. He was also a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Because of his less-than-stellar studying habits and his arguments with his football coach, he returned to his hometown after his sophomore year to attend Youngstown State University. He later had a brief stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers before being cut. He is most well known for portraying Al Bundy on the show Married… with Children and more recently for playing Jay Pritchett on Modern Family.

 

Piper PeraboPiper Perabo

Unlike O’Neill and Cartwright, Piper not only completed her degree at OU, she graduated summa cum laude from the Honors Tutorial College with a degree in theater. She is best known for her roles in the movies Coyote Ugly, Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel (as the oldest Baker child), The Prestige (alongside Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman), and the television show Go On (with Friends alum Matthew Perry). She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her work on the television show Covert Affairs in 2010. She is also close friends with Lena Headey, better known as Cersei Lannister on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

Ohio makes ESPN top 10 campus list for recruits

A week ago, ESPN came out with a list of Top 10 campuses for basketball recruits to visit, statistics and athletic history aside. Ohio University made the No. 4 spot on the list, and fellow Bobcats were excited to see OU receive some love from an accredited sports source.

How often do you get to see OU mentioned on ESPN for something outside of athletics?

What makes the OU experience YOUnique?

As you write your college essays and ask your teachers for college recommendations, you picture what your life will be like. You picture your classes, your new friend group and your living arrangements. Once you pick where you want to go to school you have this crazy idea of what it is going to be like. You watch college movies and dream of your first semester, but you really have no idea what is actually ahead of you.

So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love.” At Ohio University, this quote can be found on College Gate as you walk into College Green. This quote explains our college experience in one sentence. We grow with this university every day. Whether it is gaining knowledge through our classes, wisdom through our experiences or love through our relationships, we are growing every day. We are not the same people the first day of our freshman year as we are the last day of our senior year. Ohio University changes us, but is it really Ohio University that changes us or is it just the time period in our lives?

Every year a new group of students joins in to experience the madness, the wonder and the beauty that is Ohio University. However, what these students don’t know is that they are about to be taken on the wildest ride of their life. Just as the seasons change, every semester brings something new. But how does Ohio University change us? Is it just “the college experience” or is it something bigger than that?

Theresa Ianni, a strategic communication major and 2014 graduate of Ohio University, thought she was going to get involved, go to every football game and join a sorority when she went away to college. However, unlike many other OU students, Ianni was not in love with OU before coming here.

“It wasn’t my top choice, but it was the best choice since I got accepted to Scripps,” said Ianni. “I wanted to attend Ohio State University. I went to an all girls high school, so the idea of a Big Ten school (football games, tailgating, etc.) was really appealing. However, I was extremely excited to start college and stayed optimistic because I had tons of alumni and current students telling me how amazing OU actually is.”

As soon as Ianni started school at OU she fell in love with the campus and knew she was in the right place. She didn’t go to every football game and didn’t join a sorority, but she was right in her assumption that she would get involved. Coming to OU alone, she didn’t realize how easy it would be to make friends. Within her first quarter of attending OU, she knew that she was going to have a busy, eventful and exciting four years.

Since her freshman year she has grown immensely, both personally and professionally. “I remember being terrified to public speak freshman year of college, and now I’m presenting at companywide meetings and leading my superiors in different groups,” said Ianni. “Socially, I see myself adapting to situations easier than I used to be able to. I’ve grown fond of putting myself in situations where I don’t know anyone. Freshman year, I never went anywhere without a friend.”

You can now find Ianni working as a media relations specialist at Walker Sands in Chicago. She was hired in September 2014 after completing a post-grad internship with Walker Sands over the summer. The biggest change for her was “going out” during the week. “Weekends are the same. I don’t go out as much as I did on weekdays, but yeah I still have no money and no dignity at the end of the weekend.”

During Ianni’s four years at Ohio University OU did nothing but improve as a university, she said. “The website, marketing strategies, and even a bit of the vision evolved and I think that’s great. OU demonstrated throughout my four years that students were the priority,” said Ianni. “I don’t know if that changed over my four years, but it was very evident. Court Street was perfect all four years, but I definitely feel like it changed. More food establishments moved in and really showed that the college town has room to grow. The bars got both less and more classy but all in all it’s still the amazing street it always was.”

Mark Wilcox, a 1984 graduate of Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, said his time at OU bridged the years between his childhood and adulthood. “I discovered real academics, learned to interact with people from different backgrounds, made great friends learned how to manage time and during those four years grew into an adult.” Wilcox reminisced about his years at OU and said that he used to go jogging with the men in his fraternity (Delta Tau Delta) and they would end with Jeff Hill. Although he said he could never do this now, he thought it built character and really kept him in shape.

Some things that changed at OU were that Jeff Hall used to be a freshman all-girls dorm and that the drinking age was 18 when he was in school. Wilcox stated that the bars were crazy back then because everyone could be there legally. He has so many great memories, including Halloween, uptown bar parties at The Phase (now Pawpurrs) and CI, homecoming parades, football games, Stroud’s Run and hitting golf balls off the back porch of the Delt house (now the Athletes in Action house next to Alpha Gamma Delta) over Jeff Hall. Wilcox is now a retired Navy commander and currently an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton.

Mark Kuhar graduated from Ohio University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in creative writing. He is the editor of Rock Products and Cement Americas magazine. When asked how his experience at OU shaped where he is now, Kuhar said, “At OU, I was exposed to wide variety of different people from all over the world, which was a far cry from the narrow demographic I grew up around in the rural Hinckley, Ohio, of the 1970s. I made it a point to get a well-rounded education, so every class I took offered me something new, something memorable and some experience I was able to tuck away for future reference. All of this has served me well in a career in business journalism that often requires critical thinking, open-mindedness and personal interaction with people from all walks of life.”

Without Ohio University, Nicole Spears thinks she would be a different person. “OU pushed me to be a more tolerant, more open-minded person while also helping me break out of my shell. I left knowing how to appreciate the little things in life, and learning how important it could be to cherish the daily happenings and ritual you grow accustomed to,” said Spears. “Academically, I learned the importance of a holistic approach and gained the confidence that my unique career path had to offer me.” Spears graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor of science in journalism and a major in strategic communication in 2014. She is currently working at Launch Squad in New York City as an account associate with tech startups and a Brit + Co. freelance editor.

Ianni agreed with Spears and said being a Bobcat makes you humble, yet proud, passionate and determined. She thinks part of this is due to the people she was surrounded by. “These people were unlike any other university. They motivated me to be the best I could be in all aspects. Whether it was PR, being on the executive board of organizations, or even drinking!”

Ianni said that her biggest motivator was her boss at Ohio University Intramural Sports, Nick Brigati. “He always challenged me to think one step ahead of my plans, and helped me step out of my comfort zone with new opportunities,” said Ianni. “For example, he made me attend flag football’s officiating workshop. I’ve never done anything like that before, so it was terrifying. But the workshop taught me a lot about managing others and poise.”

“I feel like sometimes OU is so underrated as far as education goes, and that’s not fair. I know people who have done amazing things, and I know I got a great education. It’s all about what you make of it,” said Ianni. “I want to say that coming back for homecoming this year, it felt like nothing changed. I still felt at home, and I think I was will at OU. That’s the magic of Athens.”

Even though Ohio University may be changing physically and culturally, it is all about what you make it. The magic of Athens is the people and the experiences you have. No other school has the students Ohio University has and that is special. However, this is also what makes other universities unique too. To be honest your college experience at Ohio University won’t be that unique. Where you tell people you went to drink and the places that you went will be unique, but the overall experience of college isn’t. Every university’s purpose is to develop their students professionally and socially and to give them an excellent education. While not every university student may be as passionate about their school as Ohio University students are, we all have the same experiences. By making Ohio University your hOUme, you allow yourself to be opened up to new experiences and to let yourself change. Finding the person that will be your mentor and finding your group of friends is important no matter where you go. Cherish your experiences and remember that OU is unique for its location, its students and its specific memories.

***

Marisa FioreMarisa Fiore is a junior majoring in strategic communication with a focus in public relations, minoring in business administration and is obtaining a global leadership certificate and a social media certificate at Ohio University. Her passions include travel, competitive Irish dance and writing. Visit www.marisafiore.com or follow her on Twitter @MarisaFiore1 to connect with Marisa.

Looking back at the Class of ’14

When we begin college we are usually between the ages of 17 and 18. During our four to five (or more) years at Ohio University, we change. We grow up and learn how to be a person in the real world. I took on the task of showing how people change physically over their four years at Ohio University. All of the following are recent 2014 graduates of Ohio University.

Arielle Busch

Arielle Busch
Majors: video production and interactive design, Currently: digital media director at Keystone Science School – Denver

Ava Miller

Ava Miller
Major: Dance, Currently: Teach for America – Summerville, South Carolina

Colin Pacelli

Major: Strategic Communication - Advertising, Currently: Research Assistant at Vizeum - New York, New York
Major: strategic communication – advertising, Currently: research assistant at Vizeum – New York City

Nicole Spears

Major: Strategic Communication - Public Relations, Currently: Account Associate at LaunchSquad
Major: strategic communication – public relations, Currently: account associate at LaunchSquad – New York City

Theresa Ianni  

Major: Strategic Communication - Public Relations, Currently: Walker Sands - Chicago, Illinois
Major: strategic communication – public relations, Currently: Walker Sands – Chicago

For love of our bricks …

We have raced down them on our way to class. We have tripped on them in the four-inch heals we never should have worn out on a Saturday night. We have stood in line on them waiting for GoodFella’s pizza, and we have gone hunting on them for the best Halloween costume each year. They have seen our reunions, our goodbyes, 21st birthdays, impromptu fests, and lots of ugly Christmas sweaters.

The bricks of Court Street are our home for our four years at Ohio University. We build the foundation of our adult lives on the bricks of our favorite college street.

But what happens after graduation day?

Why do Bobcat alumni spread their Court Street tales like old family stories, near and dear, to their new friends?

People can tell you hundreds of stories and give you thousands of reasons, but the feeling is almost unexplainable. The reason we love Court Street almost goes beyond words.

First memories

“My sister decided to give me a tour of the campus the summer before I started school that year. She showed me every brick and every corner that Athens had to offer.” —Alex Blanchard, education, Class of 2015

Blanchard and his sister stepped into Pigskin, where she told him all about her 21st birthday on Court Street. “The one thing that struck me about her story was the pure excitement about that evening,” he says. “Not the excitement over finally being able to drink (legally), but the details of how complete strangers celebrated with her. This idea of a community within the school is what inspired me to come here.”

Our first memories, while they might not stand out, stick with us.

 The businesses

“If we didn’t meet in someone’s room, it was at one of the businesses. All were close by, all catered to the students and the students respected them for it.” —Jeff Brediger, mechanical engineering, Class of 1981

Brediger was amazed at all the bars and eating places and realized soon after arriving in Athens that Court Street was the central gathering place in town. It was the perfect spot to get together, filled with a variety of establishments that were centered around the students.

“You could go up and down Court Street easily and see so much without really going far,” said Michelle Igelhart, community nutrition and dietetics, Class of 1994

Today, 19 bars sit within a mile radius of Court Street, not to mention a variety of restaurants, thrift shops buried with hidden treasures, local boutiques, and our favorite bookstores for essential Bobcat apparel.

“(Court Street) impacted how I lived, what I bought, and who I saw. It made college a fun place to be,” said Edie Dale, civil engineering, Class of 1995

The Bagel Buggy evolved into Burrito Buggy and now students shop for school supplies at the College Bookstore instead of Woolworth’s. O’Hooleys turned into Jackie O’s and big name franchises like Cold Stone Creamery turned into small-town favorite Fluff Bakery. Even though it has changed over time, the businesses on Court Street have been an essential part of the Uptown experience for every Bobcat and are often the most memorable part.

 The people

“The biggest part of being an alumna is I can come back whenever, but it’s not the same without the people and places you made the memories with. Court Street in general is a place where we have an emotional connection because it’s so special.” —Stephanie Caesar, public relations, Class of 2013

 It was a cold winter’s night and fresh powdery snow blanketed Court Street, Blanchard recalls. Students dressed in holiday apparel and shuffled between the bars on Court Street, celebrating their last night of freedom before finals and the students’ newest fest, Santa Fest. Everyone was in great spirits and the bars were alive with Christmas music.

“A large portion of my friends would go on to graduate that winter so this was the last time we were all together, and it truly was a memory I will never forget” Blanchard says.

The people make Court Street. It’s the feel good, no worry attitude that filled the street on the weekends, and the work hard and dream big ambitions we held ourselves to throughout the week. We worked hard to play hard, and it was the people around us who made all of the hard work worth it.

Weekend rituals

“There was always the Thursday night Lucky’s gang. It was my group of friends that I hung out with all of the time. It was understood that we would get that same booth, in the same bar, with the same people, every Thursday. It was the only thing we ever really needed.” –Danny Sudetic, business, Class of 2014

Liquor pitchers on Wednesday, all night study sessions at Donkey, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” at closing time, a favorite booth in the Pub, or a slice of pizza on Slice Night at Courtside —our week-to-week routines were the same.

Our nights on Court Street were often spent with the same people in the places. Some might argue we found ourselves caught up in the midst of normality, but we’d argue back that these were some of the best times of our lives.

“All we ever needed were good friends, good food, and good times,” Sudetic said.

 Living life on our own terms

“We were somewhere that is not only beautiful but also somewhere we were comfortable and happy to be because you know people who truly mean something to you are there and you are doing things on your own terms and going after your dreams in college. Its the epicenter of campus that holds true the character of Ohio University.” – Stephanie Caesar

 When we came to Athens as a freshman, it was the first time in our lives that we were free from the confines of our parents. No more curfews, rules, or disappointed looks when we came home an hour late. Court Street was freedom. We were free to stay out, go out, and hang out with whomever. We decided whom our families away from our families would be made up of.

 It was the breath of fresh air that we had never had before and following graduation would never truly have again. Our only worries were class and, for some, work. We lived life the way we wanted to live it, not worried about anything else besides having a good time.

What we tell others

“People who wouldn’t have a connection to Court Street haven’t experienced it. It’s always upbeat. Epicenter of amazing.” –Stephanie Caesar

 As many students and alumni already know, trying to explain Court Street to others without breaking out in pure joy is close to impossible. It is also something that can be hard to understand to those we tell about it.

“You don’t hear stories like ours at other colleges and universities,” said Ron Smith,  organizational communication, Class of 1997. “Other schools talk about how proud OU alumni are … as we should be!”

 Our pride in our school goes beyond campus. We not only take pride in being Bobcats, but we are also proud of supporting the community on Court Street and sharing the stories about them wherever we go.

It’s timeless

“This answer (to why Court Street is so special) lies in what we call the ‘Magic of Athens.’ Court Street adds to the small, college-town feel. The bricks, the old history of the buildings and all the locally owned business make Court Street an OU experience.” – Ron Smith

 The buildings look like a replica of Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life. The majestic Athena time warps you back to the 1950s as buildings line streets that were built back to the late 1800s. But not only does Court Street seem physically timeless, the spirit has never changed.

Court Street is our common ground. I know when I come back that is where I’ll find everyone and it feels like it hasn’t changed,” said Sudetic.

We valued traditions and worked to uphold them. Things we might not have understood as freshmen became a part of us by the time we graduated. We might have thought back then that the seniors were strange for being so sad about leaving but now we know the feeling.

“I enjoy every chance I can to walk down the street again and remember a lot of good times,” Brediger said.

It’s home

“When I come back and I am driving across route 50, I always come in the back way so I see the river (which was re-routed) and South Green. It is like someone is waving a magic wand. I am transported!” –Denise Gibbons, fashion merchandising, Class of 1978

Our connection with Court Street is classic and timeless. We can leave for years but the second we step foot on the corner of Union and Court Street it almost feels as if we never left.

 “I love hearing my name called out and turning to see an old friend that just pulled in. It means I’m home,” said Dale.

 While we may have left Athens for years and businesses and establishments have changed, there are moments on Court Street that can take you back 10 years like nothing has changed. That’s Dale’s favorite part of returning as an alumna. Today, she enjoys returning for homecoming and the excitement of returning to the bricks she still considers home for her.

 The Future

“Now that I have a child, (what it means to be an alumnus is) introducing her to the magic of Athens in hopes that it will catch on.” –Ron Smith

 We joke with our friends that our children will have no choice but to attend OU someday, when really we pray that they do. We don’t except them to have the same experiences as we had necessarily. But truly, we wish them all of the joy and happiness in their college lives as we had because we know that there is no better place than the bricks of Court Street.

Trying to grasp our love for Court Street is like trying to catch air in your hands. It’s impossible. The outside world might not understand it, but we do, and we know that there is nothing like it. We valued our college years because we always knew how time would fly and that our days on the bricks would be limited. We were sentimental, knowing that each drink during that last semester as seniors was strong yet bittersweet. It’s a love that is pure and filled with all-intensive good. It’s the best kind of love that is unexplainable, and maybe that’s the way it should just be explained.

Tell us your story

Bobcats love to talk about OU. If you have a story or recollection, post it below in the comments …

***

Sarah Kenney is a senior at Ohio University pursuing two undergraduate degrees in journalism and video production. She is a  coffee loving travel enthusiast and adventure seeker who enjoys classic films, skiing, good laughs, football games on Sunday afternoons, and time at home with her two dogs, Marley and Mia. She aspires to someday write for a comedy or drama television series or work in travel media or visual branding.