Reflections on the trip to Monroe, LA

09/02/14

Dear Deacon Club members,Faircloth_Barry

Traveling with our various Wake Forest teams is always memorable. The experiences are often one of a kind, and sometimes it is the trips to more unique locations that create the fondest memories. Certainly, we would have loved to come away with a victory at Louisiana Monroe last week, but I can honestly say the trip was quite fun! From the outset Coach Clawson and his staff were extremely focused and conducted themselves and the team with an almost businesslike approach. Despite the 95 degree temperature reading when we landed in Monroe, sport coats and ties were the wardrobe of choice. Upon arrival they all went straight to work preparing for the challenge ahead of them.

Meanwhile, some of us in the traveling party took advantage of the opportunity to explore a town many of us had seen depicted on television but knew very little about. Flying into Louisiana I had been struck by how the area seemed to feel like it was almost lost in time, so I was eager to get out and experience Monroe first-hand. It turned out to be a very nice place, and I was impressed with how sincere and gracious the people of Monroe were to all of us who were in town supporting the Deacs.

If you are a fan of Duck Dynasty like my family, then you know we couldn’t miss the chance to see where all the action happens, so one of our first stops was the Duck Commander warehouse where many of the scenes for the show are set. The visit was a real treat, and although we did not see any of the cast while we were there, the merchandise shop was in full swing, so we all walked away with some souvenirs. Fortunately, we were able to see Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander and alumnus of ULM, the next day as he flipped the coin before the game which really added to the overall game day atmosphere and allowed us to still experience a brief brush with “Duck Dynasty royalty.”

On game day, many of the Wake Forest fans in Monroe converged on a local restaurant, the Waterfront Grill, located along the banks of the Ouachita River across from Malone Stadium. We met up with alums, friends and parents of the Wake Forest football team, and as we quickly took over most of the restaurant, it became the pregame place to be.

As we made our way to the stadium many people mentioned that we needed to make our way to a special area known as the Grove for tailgating. Draped in large oaks and complete with all the necessary tailgating supplies, the Grove did not disappoint. We were quickly welcomed into one ULM tailgate after another. I have never been offered so much food and beverage! It was the most laid back and welcoming crowd I have ever experienced, and the hospitality continued inside the stadium.

As I reflected on the hospitality extended to us, it reminded me of our own fans and made me appreciate our game day atmosphere at BB&T Field even more. I have always contended that we have one of the most fan-friendly and beautiful stadiums in the country, so I would encourage our fans to welcome our visiting fans with open arms at your tailgates. Offer opposing fans food and beverage, get to know them, and thank them for coming to BB&T Field. You may make an impression on them that they will remember for years to come, just like I will fondly remember the people and places I experienced during my visit to Monroe, LA.

See you all Saturday as we host Gardner-Webb. I look forward to seeing all your tailgates!

Go Deacs!

Barry