Continued from Part 1…
Basketball season over, I got active.
The first thing that surprised me about the social world of a relatively small (5,000 students) Altoona campus was how there were so many different, completely unrelated pockets of people on campus. There was something for everyone.
I sampled every group.
My walk-on teammate Martin (later to be known as The Barber) was dating a girl from the soccer team who had some cute teammates. Martin wasn’t much of a basketball player, but he turned out to be surprisingly well-connected on campus and knew the party scene well.
Altoona didn’t have any Black Greek organizations, but another teammate had a plug on parties of the fraternities and sororities that did exist, where I was introduced to beer kegs, red cups and a game called beer pong (and only now do I think of how disgusting it was for someone to drink a cup of beer that a dirty ping pong ball, a ball that had bounced all over the dirty and wet floor and been touched by who-knows-how-many hands, had just soaked itself in).
There ain’t no white people where I’m from. College was my first real interaction with white people who weren’t teachers at my school or retail managers at my part time jobs. Walking campus after my first few frat and sorority appearances, I’d have random white girls who I didn’t remember meeting saying hello to me and offering hugs. I had a hard time telling them apart. They all looked alike to me.
Some players on the women’s basketball team had a small get-together at an off-campus apartment. All we did was sit around and play cards, but I was intrigued by a baking sheet filled with small, hors d’oeuvres-sized plastic cups on top of the stove.
It wasn’t the cups that excited me, it was the smooth-textured, brightly-colored stuff that was in them.
I asked the female player whose apartment it was about the snack.
“Are these Jello?”
The girls corrected me — they were Jello shots, a phrase that I had never heard of before. I figured it was just a clever way to serve Jello while controlling portions. I asked if it was OK for me to grab two off the tray.
The girls giggled and said yeah, I could have as many as I liked.
My teammate, the one who had brought me to the apartment, asked if I’d ever had Jello shots. I told him that I had never even heard of Jello shots.
Eat it then, Dre. Tell us how it tastes.
I ate one.
Now, I’m a sweets fiend who ate a ton of candy in my day; the sugary content is what attracted me to the Jello.
But the Jello in these little shot cups were kind of tart and had a hint of a bitter aftertaste. Not exactly what I was expecting.
I was new to college campus experience, but I’m no dummy. I know a set up when I see one… at least I thought I did.
“These taste funny. Do they have alcohol in them?”
People chuckled but no one answered. I think they thought I was just playing dumb.
I’ve been an internet fiend for as long as I’ve had access to the internet. I used to stay up all night talking to random girls (I think they were girls) on AOL Instant Messenger in the 90s.
In my college years, there was no social media; probably for the better for all of us. But there was a way to connect via internet.
Before Tinder and POF and Bumble and all the other dating apps.
… There was MySpace, Blackplanet and Hot Or Not.
MySpace came a little bit later; I joined the year after college. Hot Or Not was a simple person-rating site, where users posted one photo and allowed people to rate you from 1-10. For $10, a Hot Or Not user could message other users who were “mutual matches;” me and a teammate would stick up on mutual matches before investing the $10 to try getting the most out of it.
Blackplanet was MySpace before MySpace (for Gen-Z readers: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all derivatives of elements of MySpace— followers, status updates, photos, DMs, etc.), where you could write your own profile info, post photos and sent “notes” to other users. It was on Black Planet that I met a coed from Penn State’s main campus, forty minutes away in State College, PA.
My first trip to “State” was an eye opener.
Altoona has a nice campus, but State College has a CAMPUS. The place is huge; it has to be to comfortably house an upwards of forty thousand students. Unlike at Altoona, you could go to school at State College for four years and never cross paths with 95% of the student body. There was a club, program or extra-curricular activity for every person, background and interest. As opposed to the one cafeteria on the Altoona campus, State had multiple cafeterias, many offering with buffet style eating. There were all kinds of parties, clubs and anything else you could be interested in.
My first trip to State was a turning point. And I still had two years left.
What did any of this social stuff have to do with business and my future, post-college life? I’ll tell you in my book Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate In Sports, Business and Life. Order it now and get all my preorder bonuses free.