By Nick Lewis
I mentioned in the first column in this series that I still get razzed for wearing Marshall University Green.
Former EKU President Joanne Glasser always teased me about it. She told me I looked much better in maroon, and I always reminded her I bleed green. I don’t think she ever really cared.
The one experience I remember vividly was the first and only time she ever called me on the phone. Bonnie and I had been invited to go to Wake Forest to watch the Colonels take on the University of North Carolina in an NCAA tournament first-round game. We were excited about traveling on the fan bus. However, I had an intestinal bug and notified EKU athletic personnel that we had to cancel.
She got wind of it and called me. When I received the call and noticed who it was from I was shocked. So shocked that I dropped the phone and it disconnected the call.
I called back and I apologized for my snafu. She said that was no problem, but she asked what was that awful music she had to listen to.
Of course it was my answer tone she had experienced. I told Joanne the Marshall University fight song is a real classic.
I was thinking since she always razzed me about wearing green, what was going to happen now that she had been subjected to all that green thunder. Was the invitation being withdrawn or maybe something much more important?
Fact is, Joanne had been informed of my cancellation and why; she was just calling to convince Bonnie and me to go anyway. I said if I felt better, then we would go. We did, but I sat in the back of the bus near the restroom just in case.
As history would have it, the Colonels lost in a valiant effort. It was a good trip none the less, and I got to be part of March Madness proudly wearing the maroon of Eastern Kentucky University.
Of course, not all my experiences with Joanne were, let’s just say, pleasant. Although we never had any phone conversations up to that point, we had plenty of conversations via email. The one I remember most involved what happened after the Colonel’s first-round NCAA game in Indianapolis against the Wildcats of Kentucky.
It was their first big dance in a very, very long time. Once again the Colonels gave it their best shot, but fell short.
What followed was unfortunate for then-coach Travis Ford and EKU. It’s all history now, and I wrote an editorial piece describing it as a nasty divorce. Of course that didn’t sit well with Joanne.
Our email conversation continued, and in one particular email I told her that I felt the university blew a golden opportunity to promote and capitalize on EKU’s big-dance experience. I said that these types of opportunities don’t come along often and you have to strike when the iron is hot.
After several frank emails back and forth, her last one read, “I appreciate your candor” and nothing more. It was classic Joanne Glasser, short and to the point.
And that’s just how it is.