Super-fan discusses importance of relationships and support no matter the result.
After the Sooners’ football season failed to reach some fans’ expectations, a certain super-fan is shining a light on some of the university’s other student-athletes.
Antonio Record, more widely known around campus as “Mr. OU,” knew the football team was going to have its struggles this season.
“We’re in the middle of a transition of a whole new process of how things are going in the football program. Whatever [Brent Venables] is building it takes time, just like a house, ” Record said.
In his first season as head coach, Brent Venables led the Sooners to an even 6-6 regular season finish. Considering the team’s recent regular season finishes, many fans considered this season a disappointment, but Record has a more optimistic outlook.
“Every team has its ups and downs,” he said. “But I tell fans, don’t show up when we’re winning. Ride the wheels. You have to be patient.”
Record pleaded that you wouldn’t judge a house in construction, so fans should withhold their judgment for a few seasons until coach Venables can construct a finished product.
While the football team has struggled with results translating on the field, other teams and clubs deal with challenges of their own.
Ethan McKinley, a forward for OU’s club hockey team, shared that the team has had its fair share of problems off the ice in recent years.
Since the hockey team is not NCAA-sanctioned, the players are responsible for the program’s expenses.
“One of the biggest struggles we face as a program is just this year-to-year ongoing state of financial instability,” McKinley said.
“Financially, it’s paycheck to paycheck,” he added. “We have to make money through ticket sales and merchandise. Players themselves pay a player fee to be on the team and be able to afford travel.”
Travel and game location are also a big contributing issues to the club’s reach. Since the team doesn’t have a home rink to play in, home games are played at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena located in Edmond, Oklahoma.
“We want to bring this game to Norman,” McKinley said. “We want hockey to be more accessible to students as well as OU fans because we think that this sport can really make an impact.”
“That’s pretty much what we’ve missed the mark on the last couple of years is being more accessible to fans and the student body being so far away from Norman,” he stated.
With overlying financial and logistical issues consistently plaguing growth, McKinley believes that being more accessible to the OU community is one of the key factors in extending the team’s reach.
Record, who attempts to cheer on as many student organizations as he can, has recently started going to hockey games more often.
“I didn’t know we had a hockey team until I first went, and it was pretty fun,” Record said.
“Last season was pretty much his first season coming to our games,” McKinley said. “He’s come to them before but never really felt appreciated. Last season he became more active coming to games and practices.”
McKinley called Record at the beginning of the season to see what the team could do to best support him and his efforts in cheering them on. When Record revealed he had a passion for hockey but had never skated on ice, McKinley knew what he had to do.
“One thing led to another and we dressed him up there at one of our practices, and the rest is history,” McKinley said.
“Hockey, they got my heart man. They’re one of my favorite [teams] here. Getting out there on the skates and skating with them, that was awesome,” Record said.
Experiences like this are what McKinley and the team are striving to provide to the OU community in hopes of connecting with fans who may have never heard of the team.
“We’ve been more accessible with Mr. OU, and we want to be like that with other fans too,” McKinley said. “It feels like family. That’s what we want with our fans.”
Porter Moser, head coach of the men’s basketball team, discussed how important it is to connect with the community, as well as how much of an impact the fanbase has on his team’s play.
Since college basketball is usually played in small indoor venues, Coach Moser stated that having a loud, energetic fanbase is crucial to the team’s success.
“It makes all the difference in the world in college basketball,” Moser said.
To further encourage an energetic and loud atmosphere, Moser has visited sororities, fraternities, student groups and even classrooms in hopes that they will pack the stands of the Lloyd Noble Center.
Before the team’s game against the UMKC Kangaroos on Dec. 6, Moser was handing out pizza to those in the student section that arrived at the stadium early.
“I’m out around town going to different clubs just to create this want to get inside the gym. We have to fill the LNC, and that’s the bottom line.”
Record echoed this statement, claiming, “The men’s basketball team is doing great. I wish more fans would come on in there and pack the place; They’re winning,” he said.
Although Moser is always recruiting fans to the LNC, he also recognizes the loyal fans who show up to support his student-athletes consistently, such as Record.
“Mr. OU is special,” Moser said. “He really means a lot to everybody because he’s 100% behind all the sports. To know he’s about bringing attention to the student-athletes, he’s got all the right reasons behind him,” Moser added.
No matter what the scoreboard reads, and no matter the sport, Record’s support for the OU community is second to none.
“You just look at him and you’re like, ‘man, he is so passionate about OU,’” Moser said. “He is so great for OU and so great for the student-athletes he supports.”