The SMU football team’s buses and airplanes aren’t the only vehicles racking up travel miles on cross-country journeys during the season. Arriving at the game site a couple of days early is a Yukon XL, ferrying some of the Mustangs’ most passionate fans – the Beasley family from Canyon Lake, Texas.
When senior wide receiver Cole Beasley takes the field, three generations of his family often are in the stands. His mother, Danette Beasley, has not missed a game since Cole’s freshman year. His father, Mike, a retired high school football coach, also is usually there with Cole’s grandparents, brother, sister, and even aunts and uncles. The Beasley cheering section has been supporting Cole since he began playing football as a child.
“When you’re a kid, you always want to be supported by your parents,” Cole says. “They like coming to my games as much as I like them being there.”
With about 400 Mustangs competing in 16 varsity sports, scores of parents and families root for their student-athletes each year. “Parental support means a lot to our student-athletes and to our program,” says SMU Athletics Director Steve Orsini. “Parents and family create a special atmosphere for players and fans at our athletic events.”
Beasley’s parents retired after his first year at SMU so they could attend all of his games. To afford the weekly road trips from their home, about five hours south of Dallas, Mike and Danette picked up a summer job on the Guadalupe River, working as handymen and shuttle drivers at White-water Sports.
The extra money in their pockets enabled them to visit the East Coast last December, when the Mustangs played consecutive Conference USA games. They watched SMU beat East Carolina in Greenville, North Carolina, in the final week of the 2010 season to clinch a berth in the title game. But instead of driving back to Texas, the Beasleys pointed the Yukon south and went to Florida for a week on the beach before attending the C-USA championship game in Orlando.
Not all parents, however, are able to make their student-athlete’s games. But with the proliferation of websites dedicated to college sports and the increasing use of social media, most parents do not need to leave their homes to know how their children are performing. The Internet has provided these families with the opportunity to feel as if they are in attendance at the sport. Such is the case for Freddy and Carmen Espericueta, parents of women’s golfer Felicia Espericueta.
The Espericuetas live in Edinburg, nestled in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. They traveled to all of Felicia’s matches in high school, but regular attendance has not been possible for her college events because the women’s golf team travels as far as Wisconsin, Alabama and Puerto Rico. The only tournament within driving distance this season was a late October contest in San Antonio.
The Espericuetas keep up with their daughter’s performance on GolfStat.com, which places scorers every few holes at most Division I collegiate golf tournaments. Players report their tallies to officials who post them on a scoreboard. The website posts scores on every hole and updates the tournament leaderboard for both teams and individuals.
“It really helps us as parents because we can’t go,” says Carmen, whose son, Freddy Jr., played collegiate golf at the University of North Texas 10 years ago. “We know where she had the bogey or where she had a birdie. I get so hooked when she’s in a tournament that I don’t want to leave the computer.”
Other parents, such as Aleksandra Lesniak, whose daughter, Marta, is an SMU All-American tennis player, have embraced social media. Lesniak uses Twitter and SMU’s varsity athletics web site, SMUMustangs.com, to obtain Marta’s results from her home in Wroclaw, Poland. Marta, a senior, calls home only once or twice a month, which has motivated her mother to become tech savvy.
“I’m on Twitter also, but I think she is there more often than I am,” says Marta. “Everything she knows about how I’m doing comes from Twitter, the SMU website and other tennis websites.”
– Chris Dell ’11