A Texas Tech flag and a banner with “Texoma Chapter of the Texas Tech Alumni Association” on it told you where you were. The ‘Support. Tradition’ message is there, too. Tech decorations are on the walls; there are red and black balloons.
The gathering was held in the North Rig Grill banquet room with about 40 people there from Sherman, Denison, Gainesville and Plano, too. They came to hear Kirby Hocutt, Sherman native and Tech athletic director speak. Jim Douglass, the vice president of the TTAA was there, too.
There were Tech football games on the televisions; there was a silent auction including a Kirby Hocutt autographed football; class ring paperweight (2), a Basketball signed by Bob Knight and a Football with “Guns Up.”
Douglass, vice president of the Texas Tech Alumni Association, was also in attendance at the function. Douglass said he is always glad to visit a new chapter.
“This group is just now getting organized and we are happy to come to help them,” said Douglass who has been with the TTAA since 1979. “It’s a great way to stay connected to Tech. And be a part of the community presence here.”
Douglass said many chapters have regular meetings and special events such as Tech game watching parties. The social aspect is very important to a chapter, he added.
“You get to network; and you can help with academic recruiting by going to high school college nights for Tech,” explained Douglass. “We encourage everyone to get involved.”
According to Douglass, any scholarship funds the chapter raises goes to local students in the area, so the money stays within the chapter boundaries and helps students, too.
“So, the chapter alumni get to stay connected to Tech and we get some great people to help us continue the tradition,” said Douglass. “It works out well for Tech.”
Hocutt was wearing a light brown sports coat, slacks and dress shoes. He has touches of gray for his 39 year old hair. Tech grad Tom Akins and his son Carl Akins, who is the Texoma chapter president, are there.
Hocutt, whose parents live in McKinney now, grew up in Sherman.
“It feels good; Texoma is home. I grew up in Sherman,” said Hocutt. “I have ties to this area.”
Hocutt explained that his appearance at the function was part of the process between Tech and alumni organizations.
“We partner between the athletic department and the chapters to visit gatherings like this,” explained Hocutt.
When asked what he remembers about his days at Sherman High School, he responds with a laugh.
“A lot of hard work,” he said. “I have fond memories of SHS; it has a special place in my heart. ‘The Battle of the Axe’ was incredible. The things I learned on the football field shape you. They continue to this day.”
Hocutt realized it has taken 21 years to get back to Texas since leaving for Kansas State University in 1990, where he was a standout linebacker for the Wildcats.
“It took me that long to get back to Texas,” he smiled. “It feels great!”
When asked about the future of the Big 12 Conference, Hocutt said it was a ‘strong conference.’
“There has been a lot of input and work into the future of the Big 12,” he said. “We (at the conference level) have a membership committee and five of the school presidents are on the ‘Issues’ committee.”
“We (at Tech) are helping to keep the Big 12 together,” he added. “We are making progress.”
With the news of the day, the University of Missouri voted to look at options outside the Big 12. Hocutt was asked what he thought of that development.
“I’m a traditionalist; I love college sports,” he said. “I want to keep the rivalries and I want Missouri to stay.”
Carl Akins didn’t attend or graduate from Texas Tech University, but he’s been to a football game every year since he was 11 years old; some 30 years. He is a true and tried Techsan in every sense of the word. He felt it was time to get the chapter going.
“Tech is a great school,” he said. “I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
It was Akins who coordinated the gathering with Hocutt and Douglass. It is his plan to hold game watching parties, networking luncheons and even a scholarship for local students.
“With it being local, that way, it stays in Texoma,” said Akins of the scholarship. “It’s still in the planning stages, but I’ll bet everyone is generous with it.”
According to Akins, the chapter was functioning about 20 years ago but slowly disbanded. His father, Tom, was active in it; and son decided to revive it with Dad’s blessing. Carl estimates that there are almost 400 people in the area that are on the official Tech Alumni/student list. He wants anyone who has graduated, gone to or simply likes Tech to be part of the chapter.
“We want to make it grow and show people what we are proud of,” said Carl. “I’m tired of just seeing UT and OU stickers on cars!”