While many University of Kansas alumni head to local game watch parties to feel like they’re back home in Lawrence, one family came to see if Lawrence was home.
Curtis Rach of Orange County, California, says he always pushed his kids to explore things outside of their home state. So when his son Davis was choosing a college, he had narrowed it down to two choices: follow his twin brother to Auburn, or strike out on his own at KU. To help him make the decision, Curtis took Davis to a local watch party for KU’s tournament game against Purdue last season.
Rach reached out to Ramy Rahman, b’09, Orange County Network leader, beforehand and told him about his plans. When he arrived at the watch party with Davis, they both were more than impressed with the hospitality.
“When people at the event heard he was thinking about KU, they all came up, introduced themselves, and told us stories about their experience at KU,” Rach said.
Both alumni and current students on spring break took time to meet Davis and his father. “What helped with the decision for him was how warm and inviting everyone was, and that they were so passionate about KU,” Rach explained.
The camaraderie and excitement of KU watch parties may have surprised the Rach family, but Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, knows it well.
“The goal of watch parties is to provide a venue in which alumni can gather and feel like they’re back on campus for a big game,” Woods said. “When you graduate you’re still yearning for that experience. ”
He added that watch parties are like the “front porch” of KU alumni events. “They are often the first alumni gathering that people attend, and it opens the door for them to attend other events in their area.”
Davis carried through on his promise and is now a freshman at KU.
Interested in finding a watch party near you? Visit our website for a list of watch sites by state, and check out the online calendar for official watch parties organized by alumni networks.
With the Houston floods receding, local Jayhawks are mobilizing to get to work.
The Houston Jayhawks Facebook group has been active with posts from Houston residents asking for help, with even more posts by locals asking how they can help. With their positive energy and willingness to get their hands dirty, Jayhawks assisted the family of Allyn Risley, e’72, 2016 Fred Ellsworth medallion recipient. Risley’s step-daughter, Erica Frost, sustained serious flooding at her house. Frost’s sister, Natalie Morgan, j’06, reached out to the Facebook group from her home in Kansas City.
Morgan’s request for help for her sister was met with multiple Houston-area Jayhawks joining friends and family of Frost for a day of hard work removing damaged flooring and drywall. The altruism of the group of alumni impressed Frost, who even overheard a friend say “the Houston Jayhawks must have some sort of emergency whistle that they sound, because they all showed up and jumped right in!”
Watch party for a cause
Megan Gile, c’11, organized the annual watch party for the first KU football game, but knew she had to add something to give back to their community.
“We decided to host our annual football kickoff watch party to add a piece of normalcy to Houston,” Gile said. “It’s an event we host every year and even with the hurricane and terrible flooding across Texas and Houston, it’s important to stay united and give everyone something to look forward too. We added the donation drive as way for Houston Jayhawks to give back to Houstonians. Beyond donating their time, donating items for shelters is a great way for Houston Jayhawks to give back.”
The Houston Jayhawks set up a donations box at their alumni bar and asked attendees to fill the box with new socks and underwear.
“The watch party and donation drive was incredibly successful,” Gile said. “We had Jayhawks drive in from all across Houston to attend. More profoundly, regulars at Coaches Pub, our alumni bar in Houston, left the bar and returned with donation items once they found out what we were doing. Houstonians, Jayhawk or not, are really banding together to help each other during this time of need.”
When asked about the strong turnout and even stronger support for the people of Houston, Megan pointed to their alma mater.
“I think it’s about helping our own and how our bond as Kansas alumni is different. Being in a state so far from home for most of us, as most of us are not Texas natives, we really stick together and are proud to be Jayhawks. We are proud to be Kansas alumni and proud to be Houstonians, helping anyway we can. Come hell or high water, we will get through this.”
This year, thanks to a partnership with Miles Schnaer’s Crown Automotive in Lawrence, there will be no missing the KU Alumni Association on the ‘Road to the Final Four.’ Catch our staff in this one-of-a-kind Jayhawk Car, if you can!
The Crown Jayhawk Car is a Scion tC, and take our word for it, this Jayhawk can fly. If you’re lucky enough to spot it on the road, or if you scored tickets to see the Jayhawks play in person, look for the Crown Jayhawk Car and post a pic. According to our friends at Crown, the car has been a fan favorite among Jayhawks and auto enthusiasts young and old.
Follow the ‘hawks throughout the postseason on our ‘Hawks and Hoops page, with the latest information on tournament games, pep rallies, shoot arounds and watch parties around the country. Plus, look for special benefits just for proud Association members. No matter how far our Jayhawks go in the tournament, you can bet we’ll arrive in style!
Some friendships stand the test of time. That’s certainly true for Linda Miller and Cindy Morgan Franks, former KU roommates who recently reunited at a Jayhawk watch party in Henderson, Nevada. The women hadn’t seen each other in 45 years.
Life Member Miller, d’70, and Franks have known each other since first grade, attending the same elementary and high schools in Kansas City and later becoming roommates as freshmen at GSP. But Franks left Lawrence to attend nursing school and moved to Las Vegas shortly after graduating. Little did she know that her friend would eventually follow: Miller moved there in 2002.
Over the years, the women lost touch but continued to receive emails and notifications for their elementary and high school reunions. Franks finally recognized what she thought could be Miller’s email address. She took a chance and contacted her. A few emails and phone calls later, and the women made a date to meet at the Jan. 24 watch party.
“It was really fun to reunite with her,” says Franks. “It was one of those, ‘Oh my gosh! After all these years, I can’t believe we’re finally getting together’ moments.”
Miller was overjoyed to see her dear friend, too, and remembers more about their visit than the game that day. “We talked most of the time instead of watching,” she admits.
Now, the longtime friends are determined not to let years go by before their next reunion. “We have to do lunch together—just the two of us,” says Franks. “We still have a lot of catching up to do.”
Jayhawks in Las Vegas had to quickly improvise when their KU basketball watch party was bumped— in favor of a UFC fight.
A few days before the KU men’s basketball team faced Texas in Allen Fieldhouse, the regular Vegas watch party site notified the group that the game conflicted with a fight. Choosing another sport over KU basketball might be a foreign concept to die-hard KU fans, but UFC events are popular in Las Vegas and many of the fighters train in the area.
Steve Wichmann and Bryan Holmes had planned to watch the KU game with fellow ‘Hawks, but instead of letting this news derail their plans, they came up with a new one.
Bryan is the master smoker and cook for Captain Cook’s Kansas City BBQ, a new food truck concept that the pair is launching. They decided to host a watch party for local Jayhawks at Steve’s home.
The scenario was perfect: the weather was beautiful, fans could watch the game outside and the hickory wood they use to smoke the meat had just arrived from Lawrence. “The wood in the desert just isn’t as good as the wood from the midwest,” Steve said. “It doesn’t burn as well, and the hickory flavor we want doesn’t come off the wood like the kind we found in Lawrence.”
The pair also wanted to get feedback on their food from folks who know how great Kansas City barbecue really is, so they contacted Dee Clifford, c’71, leader of the Las Vegas Chapter, and within a few hours they were making plans to get the word out to area Jayhawks
Steve reports that the usual suspects all showed up in time for tip off, and the food came off the smoker just in time. “Now that the Jayhawks are undefeated when we have watch parties at my house, we may watch every tournament game there,” he said.
“Sorry Buffalo Wild Wings, but you should know by now not to keep a Jayhawk fan from watching our boys on the court.”
Where are you watching the KU men’s basketball game from tonight?
Last weekend, a group of Jayhawks were fortunate to enjoy a watch party in Puerto Vallarta. Sounds better than the living room couch, doesn’t it?
Camille Nyberg, c’96, g’98, chair-elect of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, sent us this picture. We’re just a little jealous— the temperature in Puerto Vallarta hit a high of 80 degrees that day, while back here in Lawrence, we were cheering when it “warmed up” to 46 degrees.
Join fellow alumni, fans and friends for one of 22 watch parties happening across the country this Saturday. The KU men’s basketball team will take on former conference rivals, the Colorado Buffs, in Boulder, Colorado at the Coors Events Center. Click here for a list of official watch parties.
If you are attending the game or are in Boulder, join us for a pregame party at The Fox Theatre from 10 a.m. to noon! The bars will be open and food from Ophelia’s KC BBQ will be served. The cost to attend is $15 per person for members and $20 per person for nonmembers. Click here to register for the pregame party.