Freshmen Longhorns arrive on campus for 2006 Fall Orientation
'Freshmen college orientation' -- those can be scary words. The words say life is changing and things are going to be different from this day forward. The change those words bring ring true not only for the students, but also their respective parents.
On Friday, the parents of incoming freshmen and transfer University of Texas student-athletes had an opportunity to meet coaches, staff, athletes and fellow parents at the UT Athletics Orientation New Student-Athlete and Parent Reception. The athletic orientation encompasses five days, but Friday, the opening day, provided an opportunity for parents to say hello to the Longhorns family and temporarily say goodbye to their children
"Today was a great experience," Bob Schellenberg (father of freshmen men's tennis player Rook Schellenberg) said. "With all we have seen today, it just emphasizes the fact that we are happy with the choice our son made." The Schellenberg's made the journey from Dallas. The event also found people trekking from the East Coast and West Coast, as well as all points in Texas. The orientation brought newcomers from as far away as Belgrade, Serbia and as near as Austin.
"We live in Austin," Brian Lusson (father of baseball freshman Kyle Lusson) said. "It's a bit easier, but it's still tough for parents. Today was a good opportunity for us to meet the parents of Brian's teammates and let them know they are welcome."
The new student-athlete and parents reception featured a variety of speakers including Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds; Director of Women's Athletics Chris Plonsky; Vice Provost and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Darlene Grant, Ph.D.; former Longhorns women's basketball standout and current assistant coach Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil; baseball head coach Augie Garrido; and men's golf head coach John Fields. The student-athlete and parent reception kicked off an opening day of UT Athletics Orientation in which freshmen and transfers were able to move into their dormitories as well as visit offices and staffs such as sports medicine, business office, financial aid, university health services and compliance.
"This was a great experience for both the students and the parents," Grayland Arnold (father of women's basketball freshman Gabrielle Mattox) said. "All you see from the outside is 'Hook'em Horns' and Bevo. This gave us a chance to see the academic side as well as the family atmosphere the athletic department provides."
Coach Garrido is pleased with the opportunity that the athletic orientation provides the athletics staff.
"This is a good way for things to start out on the right foot," Garrido said. "This is a great ice breaker for the athletics department and a chance for us to introduce ourselves to the parents. It gives us a chance to show that The University of Texas is full of coaches and administrators with character."
Parental involvement in student-athletes lives is of the utmost importance. Coach Fields spoke directly to the parents about the integral role they will play in the lives of their sons and daughters over the next four years. "These athletes come to Texas as the best of the best," Fields said.
"They were all the best on their high school teams. They were among the best in their state, some were the best in the nation and some were the best in their country. We are surrounded by excellence, but the next four years they will need to blend in with teams that are full of great athletes. There will be an adjustment period because more than likely for the first year or two they won't be the best on their team. That can be a rough period and this is where we will need your help to lend support as they go through the growing pains of a student-athlete."
By the end of the day's festivities, one general theme had been espoused by students, parents, staff and coaches -- pride. Nearly every freshman that introduced themselves to the assembled crowd finished with by adding, "I'm proud to be a Longhorn." The parents echoed the theme.
"We are very proud that Gabrielle is playing at Texas," Debra Mattox (mother of Gabrielle Mattox) said. "We are proud that she is going to the best school in the world and this is truly a great opportunity for here, especially coming from a small school."
At the end of the reception, the newcomers serenaded parents and staff with the singing of 'The Eyes of Texas.' "I cried," Wilda Hudson (mother of men's golf freshman Bobby Hudson) said of the musical performance. "Playing at Texas has been his lifelong dream. Seeing him up there singing 'The Eyes of Texas' for the first time as a Longhorn was moving."
If everything goes as expected, tears will come again in four years Mrs. Hudson when she gets to see her son receive his bachelor's degree from Texas. Because while freshman orientation changes some things, it doesn't change motherly instinct.