Scene Setting- August 10th, 1991
Scene Location: Stephen C. O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida
[Lights fade. Scene ends with Sean confidently walking off the stage with diploma in hand]
My parents Jot and Claire Carpenter were in the audience to witness the memorable event. I graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelors Degree in Exercise and Sports Science exactly twenty years ago today - August 10, 1991. At that moment (or perhaps the next morning), six of the best years of my life came to a close.
Apart from my 18 years of marriage and the entire lives of my children, there has not been anything in my life that has had a bigger impact on me than the time between August 1985 and August 1991.
I'm sure you all have something in your life between the moment you entered this world and this exact moment in time as you are reading this that hold special memories for you. Perhaps it's a specific birthday such as your Sweet 16 or your 21st, your wedding day, a birth of a child (or children), a last moment with a parent or grandparent or some other personal moment in time.
For me, I can't tell you which moment from my time in Gainesville stands out the most but I can share a memories - some generic and some specific - that are in the "Play it again Sam" reel in my memory banks.
Rawlings Hall - Freshman year. 17 year old boy from Columbus enters a un-airconditioned, co-ed dormitory to begin my college years. My Dad helped move me in and still to this day, I remember every moment of that day...even my Dad sneaking in the two cases of Bud Light that my older brother Jot helped buy for me before I left Columbus. (It's not like Dad never did any underage drinking at University of Georgia when he was a freshman, right?)
Carl Bergeron - my Rawlings Hall RA (resident assistant) and the person who introduced me to my future best friends at...
Delta Upsilon Fraternity - A non-secret, non-hazing fraternity that was originally founded on November 4, 1834 at Williams College that became a huge part of my life in Fall 1985.
Class of 1985 Pledge Class - Matt Corey, Tim Burch, Jim Daniel, Rick Marshall, Norm Cuadra and many others who became my first "band of brothers" in my adult life. Brian Marmaud, my fraternity Big Brother, was the original "River Dawg" and a huge mentor in my life over the next six years.
Jot T. Carpenter - My grandfather (a.k.a "Pop") lived in Jacksonville, Florida and was a huge factor in me choosing to attend UF. Turns out, after pledging Delta Upsilon, I found out that my "Pop" was a DU brother from the University of California back in the early part of the 20th century. Pop's beachfront property in Ponte Vedra Beach quickly because the DU House East until his death in 1987.
Joe's Deli - The eatery next door that was a legendary spot to eat before, during and after all Gator events. Many of my DU brothers worked here thru the years which meant great discounts on food and beers and many "after hours" events that weren't open to the public.
It's been said before but guys like Jim Mullaney, Tom Sandberg (River Dawg Gen II), Marc Jackson, Bill Loehle, Tim Logan, Pete Reichert, Pete Blank, Todd Meininger, Ross Bilbrey, Mike Neuwirth, Mike Richardson (River Dawg Gen III), Matt Scaringe (River Dawg Gen IV) and may other DU brothers that have a huge majority of my memory cache than any "lesson learned" in that same time frame. "Good times don't last but good people do." Dikaia Upotheke boys!
Crescent Beach, Sugar Mountain, NYC, Boston, LA, and many more road trip locations across America including most major college towns in the Southeastern quadrant of the United States. Many memories, most of which have been sealed in a pledge of confidentiality.
"Stop", "Can I get some Viresh?", "Abutments don't give," and "Calibogue" as well as many other sayings that don't mean anything except to those who ever said them.
.10 beers at The Park, .25 cent beers at CJ's, Reed Boyd at Chelsea's on Bottomless Beer Night, Danny's on Thursday Token Nights, Chili's Friday afternoon, Happy Hour at the Purple Porpoise from midnight to 2am, Balls, PJ O'Reilly's, Bennigan's, Nells for drafts and many more I am sure we've forgotten about...or probably should.
Tony and Pat's, Skeeters, Sizzler, Burrito Bros., Waffle House, Bill Knapp's, Grandy's, gator tails at Joe's Deli and anything served by fraternity cooks - Ed, The Rev or Pat the Cook. (Please note the term "cook" used loosely and probably an insult to true chefs everywhere)
Faces of Faith, DU Lagoon, Full Moon Formal and Grand Slam Sorority Softball Tournament just to name a few events that come to mind.
Donating blood two times in a four week period to help win Greek Week
The Pike Open
Serenading sororities during dinner time
The Mallard Lounge, Work Parties and the Pent-House (forever)
Delta Upsilon's Florida Chapter earning the Sweepstakes Award for Best Chapter in the Nation - 1986. Not very often you can say you were among "the best in North America."
Dr Owen Holyoak - The toughest, meanest, most caring teacher I had in the College of Health and Human Performance. A tough SOB who wasn't liked by anyone but was respected by everyone. Without knowing it, he probably was a mirror image of my father. Earning a 100% on the final thesis in his course remains one of my proudest accomplishments in my life.
Visits to see the lovely ladies of Delta Zeta at the University of Kentucky - some solo to visit my future wife and some with buddies to attend random sorority events.
Hitting my first hole-in-one on the 11th hole at the University Course with Brian Marmaud by my side
Seeing some incredible sporting events involving the Florida Gators and many other great SEC and rival teams.
Wow - what a trip down Memory Lane. I hope you enjoyed the trip too and it made you flash back to some of the people, places and parties from your college years.
It's funny, because thinking about this now, it's probably during my college years that I subconsciously developed my current philosophy of "building relationships, solving problems and having fun."
I'm excited for the opportunity to continue that approach for another twenty years... and hopefully a few more.