March 17, 2010
Caitlin Mangum, Texas Media Relations
For the past 13 years, the younger members of the Longhorn football family have gathered together to refine their dining and etiquette skills. The event covers everything from how to hold a knife correctly to which bread plate to use.
"We learned a lot of valuable information that I really didn't even know," WR Marquise Goodwin said. "You can use the skills we learned tonight during bowl games, important dinners, or even when you take your girlfriend out on a date."
Since Brown arrived in 1998, freshmen and early enrollees have had the opportunity to take these lessons in rules and proper etiquette techniques from Mary Ellen Oliver, former UT Director of Special Services, who has taught the class since its inception.
Oliver was pleasantly surprised when she was approached by the Longhorn football staff about organizing an etiquette dinner.
"I was very surprised when I was asked to do this the first time 13 years ago," Oliver said. "I think that it is very important that Mack (Brown) took an interest in something that does not have anything to do with how you play on the football field, but it has something to do with how you are going to present yourself for the rest of your life."
According to Oliver, Brown recognized the importance of proper dining etiquette and its impact on life both during and after football.
"When I was first approached to lead the etiquette dinner, at that time, the average length of time players played in the NFL was two to three years," Oliver said. "Coach Brown's theory was that he wanted his players to be able to go out in the world and be successful in whatever they did."
Players were taught proper etiquette for situations ranging from formal dinners to casual gatherings and job interviews. Goodwin was grateful to have this chance to perfect his manners and believes that many young people overlook the value of etiquette.
"I think that Coach Brown wants his men to be presentable to the outside world," Goodwin said. "We do not just play football. We know how to go out and be respectful and how to eat the proper way that other people expect young men should, but unfortunately, really don't out in the world today. It was great to have to opportunity to come out here and learn how to do it the right way."
In addition, coaches, staff members, and their spouses attend each year, giving the players a familiar environment in which to learn and ask questions.
"It was fun to have a chance to sit down with the coaches, their spouses, and the rest of the staff while learning pointers from Mrs. Oliver," QB Garrett Gilbert said.
Although the lesson lasted nearly three hours, the players had a great time sharing the experience.
Gilbert hopes he can use the skills he learned in whatever situation life presents.
"Football does not last forever, and it is important to present yourself in the best light in whatever you do, which includes proper etiquette" Gilbert said.