My week at Boys State took place a long time ago, in the summer of 1969 at Oklahoma State University, but I still think about it to this day and I always talk about it every summer when I return to my hometown of Oklahoma City and have dinner with Grant Burget.
I was proud to be chosen the Boys State representative from Northwest Classen High School, the largest in the state. But on my first night in the dorm, feeling a little overwhelmed by all the new faces, a met Grant Burget from the small town of Stroud. Grant was soon to be one of the top football recruits in the nation and would sign with the University of Oklahoma, where he played running back.
I was more interested in sports than government, so Grant and I put together a basketball team for our “city” and we made it all the way to the finals that week, beating teams that featured some of the best basketball players in the state. That week taught me how to assert myself in competition with so many of the state’s top student-athletes — how to lead. That week prepared me for what I soon would face at Vanderbilt University competing against the best students from the best prep schools across the country.
But above all, that week taught me more than ever to love the great state of Oklahoma, to embrace its heritage, to sing the song “Oklahoma” with an all-out pride that every kid at Boys State shared. I haven’t lived in Oklahoma since I graduated from high school, but it will always live in my heart. And my frequent calls to my lifelong friend Grant Burget has helped keep me connected to my state. Thank you, Boys State.