Senior reflects on life-long love of UT ball

Kristin Otto

“I’ve watched UT football ever since I knew what football was.”

With the 2011 season coming to a close, Ashley Park reminisced on her long-lived love of Longhorn football. For Ashley, however, the approaching last home game of the season against the Kansas State Wildcats does not only inspire football-related nostalgia.

This upcoming May, Park’s time as a UT student will expire as she plans to graduate with a major in broadcast journalism; however, she did not start her college career at UT Austin. During her senior year at Reagan High School in San Antonio, Park was admitted to the UTSA/UT Coordinated Admissions Program — commonly referred to by students as being “capped.”

Even while she was enrolled in the University of Texas at San Antonio, she frequently made the drive to Austin to attend football games — temporarily switching out UTSA Roadrunner blue for “more flattering” Longhorn burnt orange attire.

Although she said being a native San Antonian had its perks — such as being able to go cheer on the Longhorns when they played in the Alamo Bowl — Park always knew that she was destined to go to school in Austin. Consequently, she did not think twice when she was accepted to UT Austin at the end of her freshman year.

“I went [to Austin] because I was pretty much raised to live and breathe everything about UT,” said Parks, whose mother and uncle are both Texas alumni. “I’ve been visiting the campus ever since I was a little girl; I have always loved it. Also, I knew UT had a really good College of Communication.”

Since she has been a Longhorn, not only has she attended every home football game, but Park has also taken full advantage of the opportunities that Texas, her major and the College of Communication have had to offer. She works in the sports department of Texas Student Television and every Monday she attends weekly football press conferences, filming interviews with Mack Brown, coaches and players.

Park is also a “Texas Angel;” the Angels are a group of young Longhorn women who work with the UT SHARE — Students Helping Admissions’ Recruitment Effort — organization. She spends time with recruits when they visit UT, conducting tours of the football facilities and sitting with them and their families during games
at DKR.

Her favorite and most memorable last home game of a football season was back in the fall of her sophomore year; on the night of November 21, 2009, the 11-0 Longhorns crushed the University of Kansas Jayhawks 51-20. Coming off the last UT home game — another whopping victory over Kansas — this Saturday’s game will be bittersweet for Park.

“Win or lose, I think that this weekend’s last home game will be really exciting. The seniors have truly made a big impact on this year’s season and I think everyone is going to be happy … and sad … to see them play for the last time
at DKR.”

As an Angel, Park has guided recruits to the beginning of their journeys as UT football players. She has watched the team grow, as she’s grown with it. The time will come on Saturday night for senior players to pass down their legacies to the future stars of Longhorn football.