I think I’ve written here before how I came to be at Wabash, but I’ll recount it again. During my junior year, I was taking a trip with our English class in conjunction with a lot of seniors who had the same English teacher. During that trip, we visited Rose-Hulman, Indiana State, DePauw, and Wabash. In that order, too, if I remember right. Which would also make sense, because you can make a pretty good rectangle starting and finishing from Covington that way. We may possibly have visited ISU first, but I don’t think that was the case, because I distinctly remember eating lunch at the ISU student union.* Anyway, I digress. I knew I wasn’t at all interested in ISU or Rose-Hulman (didn’t really want a big school [nor do I think much of ISU’s academics] and I really knew I didn’t want to be an engineer), but I was intrigued by the last two. I had heard of the Bell Game and had watched a little bit of one way back when.** I had especially heard of Wabash, as it was the “good school” I could go to if I worked hard and kept getting good grades.
*Wabash is very clear that we don’t necessarily believe in student unions, though the idea seems to get kicked around every few years. I don’t think Wabash needs one, personally, but that’s a column probably worth a five page paper.
**No idea what year, or even who won, I didn’t stick with it all the way through. I just remember completely stumbling on it flipping through channels one day and a mom being interviewed who had a kid on each team.
I honestly am not sure how Wabash got that sort of reputation with my family. We had no connection to it before I got there, other than it was in Crawfordsville, which was really close to home. We never attended Wabash anything growing up. Mom never hung out there when she was at Purdue. Dad talks about watching the 1982 championship game on ESPN, but that was about it. He never attended any games in person or spent any time on campus. It just had that reputation, I guess. I never spent a ton of time in Crawfordsville growing up, and honestly did not realize that there was a college in town. I sure wouldn’t have been able to point out where it was before I visited campus before that day. Wabash was just some nebulous idea of a good school that mainly existed to write those ever-dreaded thank you notes for savings bonds.*
*By the way, it really is an awesome idea to do that for kids for birthdays and Christmas (or whatever holiday you observe in December). It helps a ton, especially those bonds that have so much time to mature. But to the kid actually getting them at the time, it’s about the worst present you can imagine.
On that fateful day, we first pulled into some lot at DePauw. I remember getting the impression that the school was rather dirty. Writing all over sidewalks, flyers hanging everywhere. While I certainly understand that’s far from uncommon at schools, it was to another level, at least to my junior-year mind. It just came off as unkempt. Greencastle itself also came off as a bit of a dump, and it still does, if I’m being honest. My view of their campus has changed, though. It’s a perfectly fine campus, if a bit spread out for my taste. Anyway, while I wasn’t too impressed with the school, I did like what I was hearing about the academic opportunities, and the size was more what I had in mind. I filed away that visit for later.
Our bus then made the trip up 231 and pulled into the lot behind Trippet Hall at Wabash. It’s funny to look back on it knowing what I do now. We were frisked away inside Trippet and given a mini-reception in a decked out dining room right behind the main foyer. It was immediately impressed. Of course, looking back on it now, I realize that Trippet Hall pretty much exists to impress prospective students, (older?) alumni, and important guests to the school. After a short welcome from Mike Reidy, we were taken on a tour by a student.* I was blown away. The campus was immaculate. Every building, all the landscaping, was just perfect. The red brick sidewalks were left to their own devices. I could not help it. I instantly fell in love with the place. I didn’t even bother to apply anywhere else, and I was blessed enough to have it all come to fruition.
*This happened at DePauw, too, but (as usual) the Wally totally outclassed the Danny.
One of those perfect buildings was the Allen Fieldhouse. To this day, I have not come across a nicer facility for a school of similar size. I could not wait to start going to games at Wabash and using the Fieldhouse myself. And I was not disappointed, and am usually so excited especially to show off that building when I bring people around campus. I started going to Wabash basketball games regularly that winter, though we didn’t go to football games until I actually started at Wabash. I don’t know why that was, honestly. Probably because Covington is so historically awful at football (but pretty darned good at basketball), I just wasn’t all the interested.
All of this was supposed to be a lead in to look at all the football stadiums of the NCAC, but that sure turned into a long winded intro. Part Two, then, will run tomorrow, just with pictures and a short synopsis.