Experiences are punctuated by our own unique point of view. As such, I don't ask anyone to take this account as the definitive record of all that happened. I hope that in the comments below, others will share their own recollections of this event--MSU Crew's first party.
As the Generation I squad started taking form--holding regular land workouts at Stewart Stadium and water practices at Ledbetter Bay, we organized our first party. In the years that followed, our bacchanalian revels have have become the stuff of legend. But in those early days, I think are our parties were proportional to the limited experience of our all-novice club.
Like most of my teammates--as far as I know--I was a teetotaler. The prospect of a college party filled me with dread. But it seemed a necessary right of passage to attend--if only to serve as an observer should the evening's events prove auspicious enough to warrant any retelling. As it would happen, this was not the case. Moreover, having not discussed this particular party in 20 years, much of what might have been interesting has faded into a nearly inaccessible recess of my memory. But I can vividly remember how I felt, and there are a few details that should at least be offered for the sake of posterity.
We had the party in the Cambridge subdivision, just northwest of campus in a house that was rented by one of the "Women's blue team" members. The house was decorated with blue and gold streamers. Someone had gotten a poster-board and drew a picture of an 8....I think there was also something written on it. Was it something like, "Crew Team Party?"
Back then, we frequently referred to ourselves as a Crew Team. We were totally un-ironic about this too.
The lights were dark and there was music on the stereo. At least two dozen 19-20 year-olds stood around awkwardly. Dancing was intermittent.
In a corner of the kitchen, there was a small dinette table. Two of the "Men's blue team" members were engaged in a heated game of Kings Cup (neither of these guys would stay with the team--but they were totally committed to the present contest).
There were a few cans of beer cooling in a tub of ice. But not many were drinking. A lot of us really didn't have a taste of strong drink over the course of the 1996-1997 season. There were some exceptions to this--but it's not my place to single out those dear friends who had an advanced taste for the occasional brewski in the early days.
I wasn't in the mood for a first beer that night, but thought it wise to neither proclaim this nor stand around with an empty cup. I found a suitable drinking vessel in the kitchen. Filled it with ice from the freezer and water from the kitchen sink.
Dan was there. Years later, he shared with me that he and Steve weren't sure about the extent to which they should get involved in the social aspects of the club. They wanted to make sure that things didn't get out of hand, but didn't want to impose a prohibition on fun that would alienate the many juniors and seniors that were well-accustomed to the socially progressive lifestyle of the mid-90s college student. On this occasion, they decided that only one of them should be present to make sure that nobody got into trouble. Legend tells us that a coin was tossed and Steve won. Dan had to serve as chaperone.
My earliest memory of Dan was approaching me in that kitchen. "What you drinkin' Moode?"
"Water", I said.
"Me too" replied Dan...his voice suggesting an odd mix of approval and disappointment. I think that in this all but brief exchange, there was some, unspoken acknowledgement that in a span of time that would follow--after I turned 21 and walked back my late-teen allegiance to the spirit of Frances Willard--that we'd have a few beers at the crew-related parties that would come later.
The first crew party ended around 10 or 11PM. The Kings Cup contenders--having consumed most of the party's limited selection of beer--staggered into the night. They were followed by at least two dozen, awkward, very temperate 19-20 year olds.