Former football coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz was the featured speaker during Oklahoma Baptist University’s (OBU) fourth annual Green and Gold Gala March 1 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Holtz delivered a message of faith, leadership and perseverance as he shared stories of his time on the sidelines and in the studio. The event helps raise funds for student scholarships at OBU.
Holtz is best known for leading the University of Notre Dame to a consensus national championship in 1988. In addition to winning 100 games in 11 seasons with the Fighting Irish, he served as head coach at South Carolina, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Carolina State, and William and Mary.
Holtz is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the only coach in the history of college football to take six different teams to a bowl game and to win five or more bowl games with more than one team.
John Holcomb, OBU alumnus and sports director for CBS affiliate KOTV in Tulsa, served as the master of ceremonies. OBU student Madison Roach led the invocation. Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Bison Jazz Orchestra.
Will Smallwood, vice president for university advancement, along with David Whitlock, president, presented the Presidential Leadership Award to the Massey family. The award is presented in recognition of exemplary leadership and support for Christian higher education.
Their family, through First United Bank, has served as the lead sponsor of the gala for the last three years, in addition to supporting OBU in many other ways. The Masseys have provided resources for endowed scholarships as well as crucial funds for capital projects. Most recently, they provided funding for Stavros Hall, the new home of OBU’s College of Nursing. Accepting the award were Greg Massey, CEO of First United Bank, and John Massey, chairman of the board.
Whitlock greeted guests and reminded them of the significance of their support and generosity in the lives of OBU students.
“When I speak around the state, around the nation, and in other countries, I always explain to my audiences that what we do at OBU matters,” he said. “You’re an integral part of what we do. Therefore, what you do on behalf of OBU and in support of OBU, and your generosity and your support, matters to us a great deal.”
“God is greatly blessing OBU, with new students, new faculty, and new opportunities,” he said. “The blessings of more students brings the need for additional scholarships, and that’s why we are here tonight,” he said. “Our desire is to ensure that every student who wants to attend OBU has the financial resources to do so.”
“When you impact a student’s life, you’re also touching the lives of everyone they encounter throughout their life, whether they’re in a classroom or on a football field in Midwest City, on a mission field in South America, nursing a patient in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, or wherever their careers may take them. Your generosity empowers them to be change agents, to be world changers. Tonight, we celebrate OBU students, the transformation in their lives, and the incredible difference that they make in our world today. Tonight we celebrate the yet untold influence that they are going to have on our world. And tonight we celebrate you, because you make a difference and you make it happen.”
Holcomb then introduced Holtz, who took the stage to rousing applause. “People can give you a title, because titles come from above, but whether you’re going to be a leader or not will be determined by the people who follow you,” he said. “If you’re going to be a leader, you have to have a vision for where you want to go and you have to have a plan, whether you’re talking about your personal life or your professional life.”
“Everybody needs four things in life,” he said. “Everybody needs something to do that you’re passionate about. Everybody needs someone to love. Everybody needs someone to believe in. In my case, I believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior … you need somebody to believe in. But the fourth thing that everybody needs is something to hope for.”
He shared many stories from experiences as a coach, as husband, and as a father, sharing insights learned along the way. “Don’t complicate life. Don’t just try to maintain things. You have to have a purpose, something you want to get done.”
Holtz encouraged the crowd to follow three simple rules in life: do the right thing, do the best you can, and show people you care.
“If you want to be happy for an hour, eat a steak,” he concluded. “If you want to be happy for a day, play golf. If you want to be happy for a week, go on a cruise. If you want to be happy for a month, buy a car. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, put your faith in Jesus Christ. He’ll never let you down.”