Showing Appreciation

Oklahoma State fans got the opportunity to meet their Cowboys at Saturday's Fan Appreciation Day in Stillwater and OSU fans of all ages showed up and made their way through the Gallagher-Iba mezzanine level getting autographs and engaging in conversation with the Cowboy football team.

It's an opportunity numerous fans took and it was a success from the fan's standpoint and from the players.

The meet-and-greet setting offered a connection to the team that most OSU fans relished.

Lane Walker, a Weatherford native and OSU senior, said as much as he enjoys autographs and the like, but the part he enjoys the most is feeling a connection to the team and it got him even more ready for the season to start.

"I'm super pumped, I can't wait for this football season," Lane Walker, an OSU mechanical and aerospace engineering student, said. "Just the way last season when and the anticipation around this team, I just want to get it started."

And that tone proved consistent through the fans meandering around Gallagher on Saturday.

"It gives all of us an opportunity to see some of these guys face-to-face and come out and show our support in a different way," Sara Blessing, an Iowa native and Stillwater resident, said. "We're excited for the season and wanted to show the players."

Edmond resident David Hudson and his sons Jackson, 7, and Andrew, 5, were also excited to talk about the upcoming season and the opportunity to meet the players and coaches.

"I just like it for the kids, it's fun for them to get to meet the players and see the guys they'll be watching this year," Hudson said. "I'm excited, I think it's going to be a great year," Hudson said. "I think the offense will be just as potent as last year, hopefully the defense is a little better. Just looking forward toward maybe a Big 12 championship."

To which his son, Jackson, added, "We like it because we know what the player's names are and getting signatures."

That is what fan appreciation day is all about and Cowboy sophomore running back Joseph Randle remembers the way it felt when he was a kid.

"It reminds me of how I was, I used to go around and do the same thing they're doing; getting autographs and stuff," Randle said. "I just remember thinking when I was looking up at those players, ‘I'm going to be right where you are someday.' I was able to fulfill that dream so it means a lot to be able to make the kids as happy as I remember being."

Randle said it's important for the players to be in touch with the fans because of how much the fans mean to their success.

"We love home games, you know. The people who fill up our stadium are the people who are there, so we just want to show them how much we appreciate it," Randle said. "It's because of the people we got to meet today that we don't have to run out to a stadium full of empty seats — we pretty much play in front of a full house. The first game I played here, the fans made it for me. I ran out the tunnel to all our fans and I was just like, ‘wow, I love this place.'"

Defensive tackle Nigel Nicholas echoed his teammate's feelings on the matter.

"I love it. It's long but it's worth it because if it wasn't for the fans, we wouldn't be anything," Nicholas said. "It's nice to be able to put a name with the face for them, some of the kids are a little scared of us at first but then we have some fun once they realize we're just big kids."

Fans were also supportive of coach Mike Gundy's decision to skip Saturday's festivities in order to attend his son's baseball game in Florida.

"It was a bummer not to be able to get his autograph but what he's doing is great," Blessing said. "It's totally understandable, I'm expecting my first child here the day after the season opener. I completely understand his need to be gone."

Hudson, standing beside his sons, also backed up Gundy's decision to honor his promise to his son.

"I think it's great, I think it just shows his character," Hudson said. "He made a promise to his son. If I had done the same that's where I'd be, too. I'm really glad he did that. It says a lot about him."

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