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.

Meet The Singing Men of Ohio

“Pitch Perfect” brought a cappella music to the front of pop culture just three years ago. Ohio University latched on to the scene and a cappella groups started becoming more and more popular. One of the groups has gained massive popularity on campus: The Singing Men of Ohio, or SMO.

Sophomore baritone Josh Gregory summed up SMO in three words, “Brotherhood, Fellowship, Fun.”

On their website, SMO is described as “a group of 80 undergraduate and graduate students that are drawn from all majors of the institution. Established as both a performing ensemble within the School of Music as well as a student organization that sponsors service projects, social activities and makes numerous community appearances at university and alumni functions, The Singing Men of Ohio enjoy a unique blend of professional training in music with opportunities for creative expression in the spirit of fraternity.”

“I always had a great appreciation for the performing arts in high school, so coming to OU, I wanted to stay involved in music. SMO has provided me a great outlet to perform and sometimes relieve some stress,” Gregory said.

Within SMO, there is a sub a cappella group called Section Eight. This is compromised of 17 members, hence the name of the group, from SMO. This group was founded in 1991 that started with just eight members that has grown over the years to now 17 members. The name is derived from the military term, “Section 8”– designated when an enlisted soldier is discharged due to mental incompetence.

Although there is an a cappella group within the ensemble, their performances always leave an impression on the audience.

Gregory said, “The process of a performance starts with being professional, and being in the right mindset. The next step is to be in uniform with one another. We’ll usually sing 5 or 6 songs, along with 2 songs from section 8.

They even have traditional performances, like Johnny Schmoker and Brothers Sing On.

Gregory said, “We always want to make our concerts fun, and give the audience a good laugh, as well as good music. Johnny Schmoker does just that. Brothers Sing On is a song that sums up the idea of SMO, which is brotherhood. Both these songs have been around for as long as I can remember. My older brother was in SMO and he would sing these same songs, and I just thought they were the coolest. But watching it and singing it are completely different. It’s nice to be able to make the audience laugh. It’s also nice to be able to look at the person singing next to you and call him your brother, which singing brothers sing on.”

They have released two CDs in their history: “We May Be Disturbed…” in 2003 and “That’s Okay Here” in 2012.

“We make these CDs at the end of the year, and they are comprised of our best songs of the year. We also record our traditional songs like Johnny Schmoker and Brothers Sing On. Section 8 also releases some of their own CDs apart from the group that highlight their best songs,” said Gregory.

They have two more concerts left for the fall semester of the 2015-2016 academic year. They will perform at the Logan Men’s Chorus Festival on Oct. 24th at Logan High School. Their final performance is the Holiday Choral Concert on Dec. 4th at First United Methodist Church in Athens on College St.