Down in the Lone Star state the Spartan Nation lives strong!

Down in the Lone Star state the Spartan Nation lives strong!

 

Spartan Stadium in East Lansing is the pantheon for all Michigan State alumni. The stadium is a mecca for those who love the green and white. Not all who have graduated from Michigan State can make the journey. As a result, Spartan alumni groups are formed all across the country to gather for the great Saturday tradition that is Spartan football. Mr. Chris Horner heads one such group down south in the heart of Texas in Dallas.

Chris Horner has been a die-hard Michigan State fan his whole life. He grew up in East Lansing, idolizing Magic Johnson and the stellar Spartan squads of his childhood. From the age of ten, Horner dreamed of going to Michigan State. In the late 1980’s, his dream came true. Horner began to consider the campus his second home, which he calls “one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.” In his junior year, he became Michigan State’s mascot- Sparty. In his two years as Sparty, Michigan State teams had many exciting moments. He loved every one of them. He proudly attended countless sporting events and outings as Sparty. In 1992, he graduated from MSU with a business degree. Soon after, Horner moved to Dallas to pursue a graduate degree at Southern Methodist University. He met his wife and settled down in the area, where he still lives.

 

Founded in the 1970’s, the Dallas-Fort Worth Michigan State University Alumni Club (DFW MSU AC) started out small. Even though he is far away from his alma mater, Horner never wants to be far from his fellow alumni. He joined the DFW MSU AC (an arm of the Michigan State University Alumni Association) not long after arriving in Dallas. Herb Gilles, who was President at that time, took the young Horner under his wing. In 1998, Horner became the President of the DFW MSU AC. At that time, the club had approximately 100 active members. Mr. Horner had three main goals: expand, establish an online presence, and get more people involved in the club. Since his first year, the DFW MSU AC has certainly achieved these goals.

 

At the beginning of Horner’s administration, the task of adding new members was challenging. Without widespread availability of e-mail or the Internet, getting the word out about the club was tough. As technology advanced, attracting Spartan alumni became easier. Over time, the DFW MSU AC gained more members and expanded to its current size. Today, the alumni club boasts a membership of over 1,500, including 500-600 alumni who attend the various functions sponsored by the club each year. The DFW MSU AC hosts a wide variety of outings to bring lovers of all things green and white together. The biggest outings — viewing parties — occur approximately twenty times a year. The club meets at Blackfinn Restaurant in Addison, Texas to watch Spartan football, basketball, and Michigan State March Madness games. Decked in green and white, the restaurant is a place for Spartan alumni young and old to watch a game and reminisce. “We try to make it as close to East Lansing as possible,” said Horner. “Although alumni are far from home, they can relive the experience of being in East Lansing for game day by celebrating with fellow Spartans.” Just as MSU does outside of Spartan Stadium, the DFW MSU AC holds a 50-50 raffle. The club donates the proceeds to a scholarship fund for Michigan State students from Texas. While the viewing parties may be the most popular functions for the club, they are certainly not the only ones.

 

One of the most popular gatherings over the years has been the Detroit Red Wings vs. Dallas Stars hockey game. Once a year, the club purchases 100 tickets for the game. Since Red Wings hockey is huge in Detroit, the DFW MSU AC makes tickets available for avid Wings fans stuck in Stars territory. Mr. Horner approximates that 90% of the people who go to the game are Red Wings fans, but there are some Michigan State alumni who have switched allegiance after living in Stars country for a long time.

 

The group’s biggest fundraiser for scholarships is the Spartan Scramble Charity Golf Tournament. Every year, the event attracts 90 to 100 golfers. In the past, the occasion has drawn famous Spartans such as current Steelers (then Cowboys) right tackle Flozell Adams as well as former NBA player and head coach Sam Vincent. The 2011 tournament, tentatively scheduled for May 9th, will be the twelfth for the club. Recently, the group also sponsored a Day at the Races to allow horse racing fans in the Spartan community to watch the Preakness Stakes together.

 

The DFW MSU AC has been targeting the influx of young Spartans to Dallas, who have been drawn to the area as a result of the difficult economic situation in Michigan. Mr. Horner is dedicated to the task of getting these recent graduates involved with the group. A new outing has been planned to rent a pontoon boat for a day on Lewisville Lake near Dallas. All Spartans young and old are invited to attend, especially those who have recently graduated from Michigan State.

 

On November 14, 2010, the DFW MSU AC had the pleasure of hosting one of its most prestigious guests in recent history at a Meet and Greet at the House of Blues. The President of Michigan State — Lou Anna K. Simon — visited the alumni club, giving a speech and answering questions posed by club members. The 90-minute event, hosted by Michigan State University and the MSU Alumni Association, went very well. Many older grads got to meet Ms. Simon for the first time. Approximately 150 Spartans attended. Mr. Horner was very pleased with what he termed “an awesome turn out.”

 

There are many things that make the DFW MSU AC special. The club is the largest MSU alumni group outside the state of Michigan. Though there are many members, it is a close-knit club. Attending the outings held for alumni helps introduce fellow grads who share the bond of attending Michigan State. Not only does the club allow Spartan alumni to meet, it does an excellent job of enabling its members to stay in touch with each other. The alumni club has its own website, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages. (The DFW MSU AC home page may be viewed online at: dfwmsualumni.com). 

 

As DFW MSU AC President and ’92 graduate Christ Horner puts it, “There’s really something special about being a Spartan alum.” The beautiful campus, great academics, and stellar athletics help to create a bond among Spartan graduates. Ask any Michigan State alum and they will tell you that the school is a special place. The 2010-11 recipient of the DFW MSU AC’s scholarship, freshman Kristen Eichenseer, had this to say about the school and people surrounding it: “My favorite part of living at MSU are the people I’m surrounded by… they offer unconditional support and keep every day fun and exciting.”

 

The DFW MSU AC is a truly unique organization. Its numerous sponsored events and fundraisers help to keep Spartan pride strong down in Dallas. The DFW MSU AC continues to make Spartan Nation proud.