Marching band made me love a nasty river

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Ellen, why is your favorite place in Athens a dirty river?” And if you are, in fact, thinking that, you do have a point. The Hocking River is not exactly what the kids call “clean” or “safe” or “guaranteed not to have used hypodermic needles at the bottom.” But it means a lot to me.

The Hocking is basically an outline of one side of campus. I can see this line whenever I make the trip from my hometown back to Athens and I can see it from the bike path where I run. But the reason I love it is because of marching band.

The Hocking in all its stagnant glory
The Hocking in all its stagnant glory

Ever since I came to OU two years ago, the 110 has been a huge part of my life. It’s given me opportunities that I never would have dreamed possible had I not decided to buy a trombone off of Craigslist the summer after I graduated, and it’s given me my best friends (it’s also given me irreversible joint and hearing damage, but you can’t win ’em all). And throughout all the time I’ve spent with this band, the Hocking has been there.

The 110 practices on Pruitt, which is right across from the river. The rest of the trombone players and I have music sectionals a few times a week under a group of trees next to the bike path. We also do this thing before we perform pregame at football games where the 28 of us all line up at the edge of the bike path and do a bunch of really stupid dance moves. The Hocking is visible during all of this, which adds up to about 11 hours every week.

Like many other rivers, the Hocking River contains water
Like many other rivers, the Hocking River contains water

Now, based on that alone, it might make more sense for the bike path to be my favorite place in Athens. But while it has its merits, it’s not. And I’ll tell you why.

The 110 has been around since 1967. In the past 49 years, very little has changed. We still wear the same uniforms and march the same way, and we also keep the same traditions.

Two of the most important traditions involve the Hocking. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail on these — they really won’t make any sense unless you’re actually in the band — but in summary, that disgusting river is really symbolic for us. We’ve marched through it and our band jackets, which we’ll wear at homecoming for the rest of our lives, smell like it. The Hocking is basically a border for everything the 110 does, even if no one really thinks about it that way. So, while there are countless other places in Athens that I love dearly and which smell significantly better, the Hocking River is, ultimately my favorite.

Ohio University’s Emeriti Park makes an impression on students and faculty

One of the most beautiful and serene places in Athens, lies in the heart of the Ohio University campus. Past Baker Center, between Walter Hall and Clippinger Laboratories, sits a crystal-like pond and fountain, vibrant memorial gardens, monuments and a gazebo where many students and faculty sit to enjoy the scenery. This magical place is famously known as Emeriti Park.

img_2085

The name “Emeriti Park” was derived from the many Emeriti faculty at Ohio University. To be given the Emeritus or Emerita status, the faculty or administrative member must be appointed by the president of the university. They also must have completed a period of meritorious, or praiseworthy, service during their retirement from Ohio University. Full library and email access, parking on campus and access to other campus events, are some of the special privileges awarded to those who are granted the Emeritus or Emerita status by the Ohio University Board of Trustees.

Emeriti Park is 4 acres in size. The park was designed by James Burkhard Associates and was dedicated to the Emeriti faculty in 2000.

img_2087

Emeriti Park has been a popular place for romantic dates, quaint study sessions, graduation and other special occasions photos, marriage proposals, and even weddings. The park is known for its simplicity and romantic atmosphere. Emeriti Park also adheres to the natural “green” theme of the Ohio University campus. This picturesque spot, nestled on the bed of the Hocking River, provides yet another place in Athens centered on maintaining and respecting the natural environment of South Eastern Ohio.

Emeriti Park is open 24/7 to the public. Whether one is studying with a friend, having a peaceful lunch, taking photos of the pristine landscape, or enjoying a jog on the trail, Emeriti Park encompasses a unique intimacy, that students, faculty and community members can enjoy.

img_2088

 

 

 

 

A Field of Dreams: Peden Stadium

When I first came to Ohio University in 2008, I was just taking a weekend trip with my family to visit my parent’s alma mater for the first time. The brick roads, the smell of the Burrito Buggy, the exhausting hills, the trees. Everything in Athens to me was picture perfect.

But then I stepped foot inside a football stadium, but this was not just a football field with some bleachers. This football stadium had a spirit like I have never seen at any sporting venue. There was a hill that stretched behind one of the endzones, there was a view of the rolling hills just over the Hocking River, but there also was history written since 1929 stored inside every brick.

My first trip to OU in 2008 included my first trip to Peden Stadium.
My first trip to OU in 2008 included my first trip to Peden Stadium.

This was Peden Stadium.

I stepped foot on the field (though I was not supposed to), and felt a chill down my spine. If that chill was the spirit of Athens hitting me like a ton of bricks or just a cool breeze I will never know. But I realized at that moment that I too will become a Bobcat, just like my parents were 20 years earlier.

This may be considered the moment when I realized that I would become a Bobcat,
This may be considered the moment when I realized that I would become a Bobcat.

Fast forward five years, and it was my first week on campus as a student at Ohio University. I was overwhelmed by all the activity on campus, and I had a hard time becoming friends with my roommate. I decided to go to a football game with my learning community to celebrate my first week surviving college. Was it awkward? At first, yes, but as the night went on I bonded with my new friends about football, art, Billy Joel, Stephen Colbert and Big Mamma’s. By the end of the night, we all decided to go to games on a weekly basis and maybe hang out a time or two at James Hall.

 

This was during my first OU football game, where I met most of my best friends that I've kept at OU.
This was during my first OU football game, where I met most of my best friends that I’ve kept at OU.

Today, two of those guys are my roommates in our apartment on Court Street, and a few others from that night are still some of my best friends.

I still go to games on a weekly basis, even if it means sitting in freezing temperatures just to get a two-second cameo on ESPN. I have sang the national anthem with the Singing Men of Ohio on homecoming, and watched my friends play with the Marching 110. Every week in the fall is a new chance to make another memory at Peden Stadium.

I don’t love Peden because our football team plays well enough to go to a bowl game or because the Marching 110 is the most exciting band in the land when they play halftime (which is true). I love Peden because I felt that chill almost eight years ago to join OU, and because I met some people that would change my life all inside the brick walls of Peden Stadium.

Once I graduate from OU, I hope I can go back on the field and feel that chill one more time.