Highbrow Academia Clearly Agrees With Me

Here’s the story about how I became a college professor…for a day. A few months ago I was contacted by Kevin Tankersley who teaches in the communications school at Baylor University. He had read my book Paddlefish and thought I would make a good guest lecturer in his Sports Journalism class, so he contacted me out of the blue and invited me to come teach a class. Well I practically bought a tweed coat with suede patches on the elbows faster than I screamed YES! through the pipe I pictured myself smoking. Me…a college professor. I dig it.

I decided this would be a cool opportunity for Little Chick to tag along so she could sit in on a real live college class and see another campus besides UT which is in our backyard and daily lives. Forget Dance Moms, Toddlers & Tiaras, or that Lifetime movie about the Texas mom who murdered people to get her daughter on the cheerleading squad. They’ve got nothing on me as I am already shaping up to be a fairly intense college stage mom. Can’t start too early setting those high expectations, I say. After all, I want Parents Weekends to be someplace fun.

(That’s right, I got a little misguided Tiger Mama in me.)

Color the whole Waco experience green, gold and red. Green and gold are Baylor colors and Kevin and crew really rolled out the red carpet for us. We drove up Thursday night and were greeted warmly at our hotel that was steeped in school spirit. I literally could not get enough of this Baylor Bear lobby. I was secretly hoping RGIII would pop out from behind a fern and help us make a waffle at the complimentary breakfast.

Ceiling over the front desk…


More lobby art…


We had such a lovely dinner Thursday night at an Italian restaurant called Baris – yall know how I love to eat local. We enjoyed getting to know Kevin and his wife Abby, Kevin’s colleague, Cassy who also teaches in the communication department and is an avid rower and a poet. We were also joined by a superstar student from Kevin’s classes, a charming young woman named Taylor, as well as Kevin’s adorable kiddos, Brazos and Blond Sophie.


After dinner I did some recon on my way back to the hotel and scoped out where we’d be parking on campus the next day. What yall may not know about me is that I cannot stand to be late. It shoots my blood pressure straight off the charts and I’ve just always been this way. As far as I’m concerned If You’re Not Early You’re Late. So I was painfully early to campus Friday morning which allowed plenty of time to snap pics as we made our way to the communications building which mortified Little Chick to no end. Apparently she already cares what college students who are complete strangers and are passing by at least 100 yards away think. She kept walking inside the building pretending not to know me while I snapped this one.


The class was too much fun. It was so refreshing to be in a room with such bright, sharp kids. I was painfully long winded so I would like to personally invite each and every student who might still have a question or general feedback (I think Kevin assigned them to show up with questions for me) to email me directly anytime at flyfishchick[at]live[dot]com. Thank you all for showing up for a Friday class, listening enthusiastically and laughing along with me.

So what did I learn in college yesterday? That I need to continue to tweak my routine for my audience. When I got to the part of Paddlefish where I talk about our sleep deprivation during the race and how we only slept about 5.5 hours cumulative over a span of 73.5 hours, I didn’t receive the oohs and ahs from the crowd like I usually do. I quickly realized that it’s much more impressive to my 40+ audiences while the college kids were more like, yeah…and?

After class Kevin hosted us for lunch with Superstudent Taylor and other Baylor colleagues. It was a lively, pleasant way to punctuate our time together as we learned more about Baylor (it’s the oldest university in Texas), talked about paddling, and bantered about study abroad programs and encouraged Taylor to start her own travel blog.




We bid farewell to our friends in the communications department and ventured off to see a bit more of the campus. A stop to the bookstore is a must for any college visit. Here’s Little Chick pretending not to know me.


Cassy had suggested we visit the The Armstrong Browning Library which feels more like a museum and is gorgeous. It is old world glamour to the nth degree, beautiful wood furniture, detailed murals, grand chandeliers and out-of-this world stained glass windows.






Before long it was time to hit the road back to Austin. We loved our visit to Baylor and are grateful to everyone for making us feel so very welcome. And special thanks to Kevin for making it all happen. Go Bears!


One more thought to share…as I barreled down I35 I couldn’t help but think about the wonderful stained glass windows I’d seen at the Browning Library and the sayings embedded in them. I wish I could go back to class and tell the students to forget everything I said and just remember the words written in this window (in case you’re not fluent in stained glass, I’ve translated it below):


One who never turned his back but marched breast forward never doubted clouds would break.

2 Responses to “Highbrow Academia Clearly Agrees With Me”
  1. Taylor Brune says:

    I am so thrilled I not only got to meet you but also spend time with you and Sophie on your visit to Baylor! You truly have inspired me to blog and to just get out there and do something! I enjoyed learning all about your journey and I can’t wait for you to read about mine (: as soon as school settles down of course! I know I will have plenty of questions for you so I hope to stay in touch and maybe one day see Little Chick as a Little Bear!

  2. Taylor, we absolutely loved meeting you as well! Thank you so much for carving out time to have dinner with us, not to mention an extra class and lunch. We truly enjoyed getting to know you and I cannot WAIT to read your blog once you start it. And please shout at us anytime you are passing through Austin. Cheers!!

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