“How did you end up in Stillwater”? I’ve been hearing this question since I set foot on campus in March of 2007. My standard short answer is this…Mike Gundy was an assistant coach at Maryland for 4 years (’97-’00), and I worked in the football office as well. When I was looking for another job, this one came up, and here I am.
But there’s a longer answer too…
Fast-forward 5 years…I started working for Marriott in August of ’06, and about 2 weeks into the job I was miserable. I had a great boss, I liked my colleagues, and Marriott is a great company to work for. But I quickly realized I wasn’t cut out for the micro-managing work environment. More important, I really missed working in athletics. So every night after work I was on the computer, looking for another job. I also recognized that I would have to go wherever the job took me.
One night in late January I found the OSU job. The description was super vague–kind of like most official job descriptions. But I figured why not. I sent in my resume, left a message for Gundy the next morning and said I had put him down as a reference so if they called him, to make sure to say nice stuff about me.
A week later I was on a plane to Stillwater to interview for the job. The trip itself was a major drama, and a lesson in extreme patience. It’s a really long story, but in a nutshell: flights were canceled from both Baltimore and Dallas airports due to weather; DFW airport was completely shut down because of an inch of snow & ice; I had to drive 4 hours from Dallas to Stillwater at 6AM the next morning; I never got my bags until I was on my way back home, so I had to do my interview in jeans and a tee shirt; I finally got to buy some clean clothes from Ross that night; and they didn’t ask me any of the interview questions I practiced the answers for.
The town had grown a lot in 5 years, but one of the first things I noticed was the lack of variety in the restaurant market. As Kelly drove me around town that afternoon I asked where the Target was, and after a little hesitation, she dropped the bombshell…no Target in Stillwater. But I felt like it would be a good job, and after the drama of the interview trip I decided if I got the offer I was taking it no matter what, just out of principal.
When I came back from my interview my boss called me in and told me he knew I was looking. But he also understood, because he knew I was very unhappy. He had played football in college and told me that if he could go back to athletics he would, but his wife would kill him. He also agreed to keep quiet, as long as I stayed very low-key about it. At Marriott, they don’t like it when you’re looking, and the day you put in your notice…that’s your last day. I’m guessing the hotel business is pretty cut-throat, and they’re afraid you’re going to take all of your leads and contacts to another hotel.
Fast-forward another 5 1/2 years. Moving to Stillwater was the best decision I could have made. I love my job (99% of the time). I have made so many wonderful friends, and many of them have become like family. I have a great house that I couldn’t even pretend to afford if I was living back in Maryland. There’s still no Target, but there’s no Sam’s Club or mall either, so it’s a great excuse to go to Edmond every few weeks. And the summer heat is still ridiculous, but you learn to live with it. And there’s really no such thing as fresh seafood here, which really sucks. But I’ve adapted, and make sure to get as much of it as I can whenever I go back to Maryland.
When I told my Maryland friends I was moving to Oklahoma they all looked at me like I was crazy. But the ones who have visited, they get it. A lot of friends in Maryland still ask when I’m moving back…there’s really nothing making me want to move back. Yes, I miss everyone a lot, but that’s what airplanes are for. And I’ve made a really good life here in Stillwater. I still won’t buy a cowboy hat, but I did find these great boots.