For the first time, I had the opportunity to travel and experience the iconic American tradition and pageantry of the Rose Bowl earlier this month. As a guy who grew up and spent most of his life on the East Coast, the Rose Bowl—“The Granddaddy of Them All”—more than any other major bowl game, carried an almost regal prestige. So, it is understandable that my expectations of this experience were very high—which is not always a good thing, because the reality rarely matches the ideal vision we paint in our minds.
We attended the coaches’ luncheon and had the opportunity to hear from players and the head coaches from each school. We attended the parade, rising at 4:00 a.m. on an unusually cold January morning in Pasadena, to cheer on the Marching Ducks and cheerleaders. Then, of course, there was the game: a 59-20 drubbing over the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles. I could go into great detail about each of these, but they are not the point of this column, as ultimately my favorite part of this experience had very little to do with any of the aforementioned experiences.
My favorite part was the opportunity to participate in an Oregon bowl game tradition: the Oregon Community Service Project. On the morning prior to the game, more than 100 UO faculty, staff, students, alumni, and fans volunteered at the Dream Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Dream Center is a volunteer-driven organization that finds and fills the needs of more than 80,000 individuals and families each month. We had the privilege of cleaning up the neighborhood, serving lunch, sorting groceries, and providing clothing to the community that the center serves. It was a powerful experience to wear the Oregon brand and have our great university associated with this service project. From now on, when those that we served that day see the “O” or hear about Oregon they will be reminded that service to others is part of what it means to be a Duck!
In every way, this experience exceeded my expectations. This year is off to a great start, in part for what we did on the on the field, and more so for all that we do off the field. What are you looking forward to in 2015 for the University of Oregon? Join the University of Oregon Group on LinkedIn to answer this question, and network with more than 18,000 other Ducks.
Paul J. Clifford