Back in the day, I wrote columns for the KU student newspaper, The University Daily Kansan.
Exploring some of my past writings, I came across this gem.
(Author –> Erin Brown, because that’s my maiden name of course).
I was in fourth grade when I told my parents I wanted to be a writer. My mom smiled and said, “Ah, journalism,” shortly followed by “the University of Missouri.” My dad chimed in with, “the best journalism school in the country.” That was the day my future was decided.
My parents met at Mizzou, and my aunts and uncles also attended the school. I was brought up to be a Mizzou baby, child and adolescent. I was dressed in an MU cheerleading outfit until late elementary school and could sing the fight song at the age of seven. My family visited the campus at least once a year, and I have probably attended more MU football games than KU football games over the course of my life. My dad made an MU shrine in our basement, and on game days, he answers the phone with “Go Tigers!”
My cousin, Megan, and I had planned to attend MU together from the time we could talk. Megan is six months older than me, and she is one of my closest friends. She was the next one to fall in the line of Mizzou attendees, but I chose a different path.
I guess you could say I didn’t understand the rivalry. College sports weren’t something I became interested in until I became a college student, and I could never wrap my mind around the tension between KU fans and MU fans. It wasn’t until after my family moved me into my dorm room and was ready to leave that I realized I might have broken their hearts. My brother called me a traitor as he pushed past me to the door, and it suddenly became clear to me that this transition might be harder than I anticipated.
To me, both KU and MU were simply two schools in two different states. They both had something to offer, and I could be successful attending either. But to my parents, the decision meant so much more.
My mother reluctantly took me on a KU college visit after we had compared in-state tuition to out-of-state tuition. I fell in love with the campus, the people and the atmosphere. I was very impressed with the study abroad programs and equally impressed with the journalism school. I thought I could be at home here, despite the many years I was told MU would be my home.
The decision was difficult, and I swayed back and forth. As I struggled, my cousin told me she knew I was one to go against the grain, and she was right. A part of me simply wanted to prove them all wrong.
I became a Jayhawk, despite my parents’ best efforts. My dad told me he thought KU was a good school, and he simply wanted me to be happy. I can honestly say I have never been happier.
Of course, I set myself up for the ridicule and the jokes. Last year, my parents, aunts and uncles never ceased to inform me of how overrated my football team was and were also very quick to point out that the jayhawk is a mythical bird.
This year I sit in my aunt and uncle’s house listening to the MU fight song and watching my cousins hang black and gold streamers across the ceiling. They are all making bets on the score, a victory for Mizzou.
But when it was all over with a 40-37 KU victory, they will hug me and tell me good game. They will laugh with me and give me high fives, and despite our differences I will still be a part of the family.
We will wonder what might have been as my cousin drives back to Columbia, leaving me behind.
I will go back to Lawrence, a city I have come to love more than Wichita. I will go back to my friends, my life and my school. I will go back to the best four years of my life, and I can’t blame my parents for wanting me to share their same experience during the best four years of their lives.
Sometimes we have to break out of the cycle of tradition, write our own stories and direct our own lives. I plan to make a name for myself with my degree from KU in my hands, and I will break the mold that was made for me.
I will teach my children the Rock Chalk Chant, and when they grow up, if by some crazy coincidence, they decide to be MU tigers, I will let them, but not without the jokes and the ridicule, of course.