By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer
On Saturday, Baylor football fans gathered to cheer on their team against the University of Oklahoma — the atmosphere was electric with cheers and jeers after every big play, but McLane Stadium didn’t host the only fan-filled event.
While the action against OU unfolded at home, 100 miles away, the Baylor family found community in Austin. While the definitive way to experience Baylor football is in the stands, the best alternative may be an alumni watch party.
A few dozen fans descended on the Cover 3 restaurant in Austin for Saturday’s watch party. Packed in a reserved wing of the restaurant, alumni and friends from all walks of life joined together to cheer on the Bears.
Tracy and Robin Owens met at Baylor and graduated from the university in 1986 and 1987, respectively. Saturday’s watch party was the first the couple attended, but Tracy Owens said it wouldn’t be the last.
“We were looking to watch [the game] with some other Baylor fans,” Tracy Owens said. “[The atmosphere is] good; it has got pretty good energy… for sure [we’ll be back.]”
Robin Owens said she shared her husband’s views and loved watching the game surrounded by the Baylor community.
“It’s a lot more fun watching it here with everybody for sure,” Robin Owens said. “We’ll definitely do this again.”
Samantha Edelfelt graduated in 2015 and attended the watch party with her fiancé and mother. Unlike Tracy and Robin Owens, Edelfelt went to prior watch parties, which she said helped her find a community in her new home.
“You go from, especially as a new grad here, having that community in Waco to coming to a big city and not having it, but here you get that sense back of the Baylor community and people with those values that you might be missing otherwise,” Edelfelt said.
Throughout the game, the energy mimicked that of a stadium, from the chants and cheers following each successful Baylor play to the shocked silence following Oklahoma’s touchdowns. Despite the disappointment of a loss, Edelfelt said watching the game with other fans made the night enjoyable.
“Tonight was awesome, especially at our table,” Edelfelt said. “I think the energy is there for Baylor, but it takes being in the Baylor community to kind of bring it out of people.”
With a limited number of tables, separate groups of Baylor supporters sat together and got to know each other throughout the evening. Robin Owens said she enjoyed meeting other members of the Baylor family.
“We’ve met some great people,” Robin Owens said. “I see so many UT fans on a daily basis that it’s just nice – it’s like, ‘Oh, my Baylor family.’”
Edelfelt said others considering attending their first watch party should expect to meet great people with a common bond.
“I would say they’re probably nervous to come out because they are not going to know many if anybody there,” Edelfelt said. “But they should know that tonight I came with my mom and fiancé, and we ended up at a table with three different groups – and so everyone is super friendly. You can make friends and make a community out of a three to four-hour game.”
Baylor alumni host watch parties across the nation. “It’s just something more about having fellow Baylor people around you,” Robin Owens said. “It just kind of brings the spirit of the campus and the game, and it makes it all more fun.”