As my career as a Titan comes to a close, I have had an opportunity to do some serious reflection on what my time at a Division III institution – and as a Titan – has meant to me. To be able to wear the black and gold for the last four years has been an absolute blessing and something that I never took for granted.
Being the hometown kid made me realize just how much being a Titan means to so many people. A classic example that comes to mind is a relationship developed over accounting and coffee. People who know me know that I enjoy doing most of my studying at the local Starbucks and while I usually prefer to keep to myself and study the latest chapters of Federal Income Tax, that all changed when an older man sporting a UW-Oshkosh coat asked if he could accompany me one day.
We introduced ourselves and began talking about our team as he noticed my Oshkosh Basketball Sweatshirt. The man’s name was Burk Tower, former College of Business Dean, and so began an interesting friendship. We saw each other once or twice every two weeks and conversations ranged from our team’s problems with turnovers, upcoming games as well as other topics like my plans for the future, family and his journey with UWO. Something as simple as those talks really made me realize just how much being at a school like UWO and being a Titan has impacted me and the relationships I have built.
Our coaching staff always preaches to our team about how we have something special here at Oshkosh; it is a big school (roughly 14,000 students) but an extremely tight-knit campus. The athletic teams are interconnected and how they all seem to feed off each other’s success is truly special. I have always felt as though it isn’t just our team of 18 guys but rather the whole athletic program in our corner and that is something powerful that I am not sure many other schools have. This type of connection leads to instant bonds with people in all of the athletic programs once you step on campus.
Finally, and part of the biggest component to my experience overall, is what it has meant to me to be a Division III athlete. I always tell people that to be a successful Division III athlete you must truly love the sport you are participating in and have an unbelievable set of teammates because there will be plenty of trials and tribulations. And if I were to write a letter to my freshman-year self, that is exactly what I would write. I would remind myself just how hard these next four years will be but also how many lessons will be learned and good times had. There will be countless 6 a.m. lifts, long practices and weekend obligations. But to go along with the hard times, there will be lifelong friendships made, cutting down nets, worldwide travel, some great wins and countless other unforgettable experiences.
To conclude, I would like to thank my family, coaches, teammates, trainers and Titan fans along with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the continuing support of Chancellor Leavitt, the many professors, and the Athletic Department. The stamp that this unique DIII and Titan experience has put on my life will impact me for the rest of my life. None of the success or fun we had would have been possible without the incredible support system we have and for that I am forever thankful.
Once a Titan, Always a Titan,
Titan Men’s Basketball