Recovery programs host sober tailgate for Baylor vs. UT game

Baylor students celebrate football season with tailgates, which involve food, refreshments and games. At the Sober Tailgate in Austin this weekend, students can be sure to have tons of fun. Jason Pedreros | Multimedia Journalist

By Madalyn Watson | Reporter

Baylor students, families and alumni have many game day options at the Baylor versus University of Texas game this Saturday — one of which is a sober tailgate.

The Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC) along with the University of Texas Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP) are hosting a Sober Tailgate from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at 2007 University Ave. in Austin.

New Braunfels senior Morgan Pettis said she will be able to see her friends she met through the BARC who have since graduated from Baylor at the tailgate.

“I feel like tailgates are a very big part of football season, and it’s very heavily based on, you know, drinking before the game. But having a sober option is really good for people in recovery who still want to be part of those kinds of social events,” Pettis said.

Stanton Corley, the recovery support coordinator of the BARC, will be attending the tailgate. He said both universities’ Collegiate Recovery Programs — including the BARC — aim to provide students the same college experience as their peers without being in an unsafe environment where drinking and partying occurs.

“For me personally, I see not just a game of football, but sports in general as a way to unite and not to divide,” Corley said. “Unfortunately in our culture, you know, if you’re a Baylor fan that goes to the University of Texas to [watch] a football game, there’s language of, ‘They’re our enemy. They’re our opponent,’ and I disagree with that. I believe that they are our brothers and sisters that we’re to unite with and be in a relationship and fellowship with.”

Although the football players are pitted against each other on the field this Saturday, fans of both teams are welcome at tailgate.

“I think our relationship with UT’s collegiate recovery program is pretty cool because a lot of the Baylor graduates go down to Austin, and through Austin there’s the sober fraternity called Alpha 180 and then there’s UT’s collegiate recovery program,” Pettis said. “So it’s like they’re still able to go out and be part of a recovery community even though they’ve left Baylor and Waco. So it’s like really cool having that Austin [and] Waco connection.”

Corley said tailgating is a good opportunity for unification between students and their peers at their own university and others. Unifying the two universities and their collegiate recovery programs allows for healing and recovery.

“For me in my journey of recovery, the reason I fell into substance use and substance misuse was that all I thought about was myself and all I thought about was, what was best for me, until I started thinking out of myself being more selfless looking at others who are different than me with more empathy and compassion.” Corley said. “Until I started doing that, I never experienced recovery. I never experienced healing.”

Students from both universities will get into the tailgate for free and receive free tickets that can be used at a variety of food trucks.

“We’re inviting all students from both universities to come and attend and join and unite and celebrate. A lot of people would think, ‘This is just for students in recovery.’ But it’s actually important for other students to be there too so that they can learn from us, we can learn from them and hopefully further educate people who aren’t in recovery [that] this is a huge, major issue that people are afraid to come out and get help for,” Corley said.

Des Moines, Ia. junior Rachel Schneider is hoping she will be able to go to the tailgate.

“I would go not because it’s sober, but because it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Schneider said. “There’s going to be so many great things. There’s going to be so many great people. I have personally never met anybody from the UT collegiate recovery program, but I know that they are very involved and that our groups work closely together.”

The tailgate will include activities including a petting zoo outside the tailgate put on by the organization Tiny Tails.

The tailgate is similar to a national conference put on by the Association of Recovery in Higher Education. The conference allows students in collegiate recovery programs across the country to engage with other college students in a safe space.

“This leadership conference provides them an opportunity for leadership development, but it also provides them the opportunity to go and ski on the ski mountain with a bunch of college students who are wanting to stay sober.” Corley said. “This tailgate is another form of that — it’s providing inclusive opportunities for students in recovery to have the same experiences that their peers are having but in a safe and sober environment.”

The BARC puts on similar events throughout the year, including game day watch parties and other fun events that allow students to enjoy the college experience without being exposed to alcohol and drug use.

“One of things that the BARC does is Bob Ross Day during finals week. I like it because it’s a healthy, sober way to unwind. You can come in at any time during that day, we’ve got Bob Ross on and you can paint,” Schneider said.