“My last home game on the Cat Carpet was in November of 2001. It’s hard to believe that 15 years had gone by that fast. It was a totally different field back then.”
Massive renovations had been done to Cunningham Stadium. There is now a new track, field turf and a state of the art weight room in the stadium.
Not only was the field redone, but so was the campus. Bowen Hall was in the process of being renovated and there was beautification everywhere. Landscaping replaced driveways and parking lots. And the library received an extreme makeover. It felt great to see the progress that had been made.
Wayne played Augustana University that weekend, which traditionally has a strong program (not the team you want to schedule for homecoming). The game was close in the first half but the visiting team eventually pulled away. However, the highlight of the trip back to Wayne did not take place on the field, instead it took place in the parking lot.
Nearly 30 years of Wildcat football players got together to talk about the good ole’ days at Wayne. They tailgated, exchanged beers and memories. It was a perfect day to bring folks together. Brothers came from all over the world to ascend on the small town in northeast Nebraska; Los Angeles, Brooklyn and even Lebanon.
There is something something special about this place. The plan is to do it again next year. It seems like a new tradition has begun.
Omaha Rockets Kanteen
The Omaha Rockets Kanteen is a Negro Baseball League themed soul food restaurant located in historic North Omaha. This was the first meeting point of this year’s reunion weekend. There, the group had lunch and spent time catching up, while enjoying some down home Southern cooking.
Orenthian (Juice), Golden and Dion are all football coaches for respective programs in the Omaha area. Juice coaches a youth club, the Vikings. His son, “Deuce” Orenthian, Jr., is a standout player at Lewis and Clark Middle School.
Meanwhile, Dion and Golden are coaches at Concordia High School. Their time played in a nail-biter against Boys Town. It was great to see our brothers coach at such a high level.
The Power of Unity
When we were in Wayne, there were very few students of color on campus. We had the Multicultural Center, M.A.C.T., the football team and a constituency of brothers and sisters from Omaha and Iowa who pretty much made-up the black and brown population on campus.
Though we had some great times at Wayne, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the rivalries and petty drama that took place between us. We did not always see eye-to-eye, like most families. We all came from different experiences and brought our baggage to Wayne. But when it was all said and done. Most of us finished and have gone on to do great things. Leo, Barry, Yano, Yamika, Orenthian, Donovan and Ashley are leaders in education. Rob is a successful builder. Jennifer, Kendall, Carlos and Mike are all successful in there respective fields of work as well.
We’re doing it! We are setting a new trend for the next generation of black and brown Wayne graduates. That’s a beautiful thing.
Join brothers Barry and Ashley next year on their annual reunion to the enchanted island-nation of Haiti, the first black republic in July 2017. Be on the lookout for more information in the weeks to come. Hope to see you all next year.