Interesting Exposure

We’re back from the land of college. Whew! That was quite a trip.

Back before the earth cooled (when I was in college), freshman orientation was a pretty low key thing. It consisted of a couple of days before school, we took some placement tests, stood in 8,000 lines to sign up for courses/get IDs, and told our parents all about it (maybe) sometime later.

Now, freshman orientation is a full-family deal with seminars, tours, entertainment…it’s big business. We stayed on campus, ate in the cafeteria, and generally lived college from Sunday noon to Tuesday noon.

Going to East Texas and seeing all the families made us very conscious of how fit the Austin community is. Houston is one of the (if not the) fattest cities in the nation, and almost 40 percent of the students at Stephen F. Austin University come from the Houston area.

It was apparent.

Food choices were abysmal–not just the individuals’ choices (I have never seen so many people drinking so much Coke from large vats all during the day) but the school’s as well (portions were huge, choices were less-than-healthy, and lots of stuff was cooked in fat/butter/grease, including the vegetables).

Honestly, it was shocking.

But there were some good fitness-related things at school. Their rec center is absolutely fabulous, with all kinds of activities and equipment offered to students, and it seems that it really is used (every time I’ve popped my head in, there have been a variety and goodly amount of kids doing all kinds of stuff). I had hoped I’d have a chance to go partake of some of it myself, but the schedule just didn’t allow for that unless I wanted to skip something or go late at night when everything was done. Being mom-aged, I just wanted to go to bed at 11PM.

Yesterday morning, however, I opted to get up early and run around campus. I hadn’t realized that it would be dark at 5:45AM; not being real familiar with Nacogdoches, I opted to run to the stadium and check it out thinking at least I’d be on main roads that would be lit. After a short 7-minutes easy roundabout run from the dorm, I was at the stadium.

To give you some perspective, Round Rock ISD’s “athletic compound” (i.e., stadium) is bigger and has a huge superfluous Jumbo-tron. I believe RRISD dropped some 8 million on this thing, and I can’t remember right now if  “the Palace” (as it is known) has a track…unless you’re there for some event, it’s all locked up. It’s out in the middle of nowhere and so I am only there for whatever event I’m watching (for a fee).

SFA’s stadium, while small, is very nice AND it was completely open to the public. I was so thrilled! After a quick tour around the perimeter, I scampered down the steps to the lovely cushy track. (One of the primary programs at SFA is forrestry and everything there is beautifully landscaped, including the stadium, which seems to be set in a giant bowl of grass.)

And there were ALL KINDS of people out walking the stadium sidewalks, running/jogging/walking the track, and going up and down the stairs. All shapes and sizes and speeds. I did three miles on the track, happily. All athletic events on campus are free to students, which I think is fabulous. Probably half the people I saw out at that time were college-aged kids.

It just made my heart sing.

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “Interesting Exposure

  1. Oh, I\’m sure the largesse in the cafeteria was just for the orientation weekend as a special for the parents. I\’m sure come term time the kids\’ll be back on veggies and smaller portions. You just saw the sales demo model 🙂 not

    It does sound like they have a wonderful accessible track setup. very nice.

    Heehee, yes, it\’s dark at 5:45AM, where\’ve you been, CdA? 🙂

    1. Giggle. Yes, I am not one to leap out of bed and go run. But do I sound weird when I say it\’s one kind of dark when you know where you\’re going but an altogether different kind of dark when you don\’t?

  2. superfulous jumbotron

    Um, just a point of order. I don\’t think there is ever anything superfluous about a jumbotron. I mean, the one at Round Rock stadium ISN\’T EVEN HD! I can barely watch that thing. Have you not noticed the pixelation that occurs on fast motion video?

    1. Re: superfulous jumbotron

      You\’re right; maybe they should bid on UT\’s Godzillatron when it becomes obsolete next year (or are they too late already?).

      Nothing but the finest for RRISD academics!

  3. Re: fatties

    On our recent road trip, I think we passed through the densest part of the country. It was pretty frightening to realize how few healthy choices there are for wide swaths of our nation.

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