To be straightforward here, I was never a K-State fan before I attended the university in the fall of 2007. I was raised a Mizzou Tigers fan. Most of my relatives had attended the University of Missouri and were avid fans. My entire extended family would flock to Columbia from all over the country every year for Homecoming. We would tailgate, watch the parade, and visit all their old college hangout spots. I have many great memories visiting Mizzou, but over time I felt it wasn’t the place for me. Perhaps I just wanted to do something different?
One of my good friends invited me on a college visit to Kansas State my junior year of high school. The lengthy drive down I-70 was bare and seemed as if this town was literally in the middle of nowhere. I’ll never forget pulling into Manhattan for the first time. As we were turning onto Bluemont Avenue I remember thinking how could I ever live in this modest little place. My first impressions were that it was lackluster and a sleepy little farm town. Yes, I was being a very judgmental eighteen year old. Being raised in what some like to call the Johnson County bubble, I couldn’t imagine myself living in Manhattan, or any small town for that matter. It started to grow on me as we went into Aggieville and then toured the beautiful campus. The matching limestone buildings and landscaping gave the campus an unforgettable charm.
The people were incredible; everyone was so friendly, genuine, and were truly proud of the university. In my senior year of high school I went out on a whim and decided I would attend Kansas State University. I will have to say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Right after I heard Dean Bosco’s inspiring welcome speech that fall I began to fall in love with Kansas State and Manhattan. I couldn’t envision liking any other college town as much as I loved Manhattan; it was magical. It has a small town charisma yet it is home to a major Big 12 school. The town was so compact and I felt like I knew everyone. I was within walking distance to all my friends, Aggieville, the campus, and the sports stadiums. The local restaurants served amazing food and were incredibly hospitable. I single handedly helped stimulate the local economy with the amount of money I spent on food while I lived there. Over my five years in Manhattan, I witnessed significant growth in retail, restaurants, and hotels. Yes, I was on the awesome five year plan in case you were wondering.
As a lover of all things sports, I immediately checked out the Kansas State Athletics. I purchased basketball and football season tickets my freshman year. I immediately fell in love with the program and the dedicated fan base. Prominent figures that out my first few years there were Micheal Beasley, Frank Martin, Jacob Pullen, Brandon Banks, and of course Bill Snyder. I vividly remember the announcement Snyder was returning. The whole town was buzzing; it was like the second coming K-State athletics version. I remember the football players in my economics class came back to with short and refined haircuts. Bill is very old school and has strict policies on how he runs his team. You couldn’t help but appreciate him and be proud to go to the school that he has transformed into what it is today. Frank Martin was the passionate Cuban that breathed new life into the Kansas State basket ball program. He may get enraged and throw out some profanity here and there but the Kansas State fans couldn’t get enough of him.
Kansas State athletics competes with class and dignity. Some may always view them as the underdog or that other Kansas school. I like that people underestimate our talent and drive. The program continues to grow and it is once again the norm for them to be national contenders every year. It captivated me and I will always and forever be a Wildcat.
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