Syracuse University Magazine

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Members of the Orange Crew as they appeared a couple decades ago.

Photo by Marianne Pilla Cushing



The Orange Crew

By Gwen Moran

Although some might describe me as a suburban New Jersey soccer mom, I have a secret. On any given night the Orange is playing hoops, you’ll find me hanging out with a bunch of fraternity guys and sorority gals. But this is not material for some cougarlicious reality television show. We watch from our own homes, connected through Facebook, and the result has been a wonderful renewal of some long-lost friendships.

Twenty-something years ago, you’d have found this same group of Greeks cheering Rony Seikaly ’88 and Derrick Coleman ’90 from the Carrier Dome bleachers, then heading back to Hungry Charley’s or the Delta Tau Delta house to grouse about midterms over a beer or two. At one time, we were thick as thieves, forming the intense, immediate friendships at which college students excel.

Over the years, however, careers, families, and life, in general, sent us to far-flung places. Keeping in touch through calls, notes, or Homecoming trips happened much less frequently, then not at all. I still thought of these old friends, but it had been so many years since I had seen many of them, I had not a clue what I would say if I ever did get in touch again.

Enter Facebook. Suddenly, the faces from my past flooded my computer screen in so many smiling thumbnail shots. With just a few clicks I found Karen and Pam, then Phinster and Gene. Through them, I connected with Tim, David, Harry, Tracey, Sam, and Liisa. And then, there were Marianne and Patti and other Chi Omega sisters with whom I had remained in touch over the years. We “friended” each other, tried to catch up on a couple of decades, and uploaded the dreaded ’80s photos of each other from our scrapbooks. Boy, did I have big hair.

One evening a few years ago, I was watching the Orange on ESPN and logged on to Facebook. Gene had posted something about the game. 

“That was a great shot,” someone wrote under his comment.

“Yes!!!” said another after Rautins scored a field goal. Or maybe it was Onuaku. I’m not quite sure.

And so it went. Six or seven of us discussed the game and the team’s stats while cheering them on, trading dozens of comments for nearly two hours. Gene suggested we gather at his virtual place for the next game. We did.

Now, most evenings when the Orange is on my TV, I’ve also got my laptop or smart phone nearby, ready to connect with my friends online. We discuss the game, as well as our lives. I’ve learned about Harry’s research, Bob’s teaching, and Tim’s music. David still has that droll, dry sense of humor, and Phinster is the same good-hearted guy I remember. Both he and Pam are in Georgia. Sam helped spearhead the return of Alpha Gamma Delta to campus, and Liisa has a thriving craft business. Tracey actually lives in my town and we watch the games together when we can. Karen and I—well, we share cancer diagnoses, although mine was in my left breast and hers in her brain. Thankfully, we’re both doing well.

We chat, chide, cheer, and groan while watching the Orange, just like we did so many years ago. Now the topic drifts are about work and family instead of professors and parties. One lively exchange racked up 150 comments during the course of a game.

Our little group continues to grow, and a few of us have even managed to get together in person with more plans to come. We may be in Jersey, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and New Mexico, but twice a week for several months a year, we’re back together—a group of people with some shared history reunited by technology and a love of the Orange. 

 Gwen Moran, a 1988 graduate of the Newhouse School, is a freelance writer and ghostwriter based at the Jersey shore. She has written for Entrepreneur, Newsweek.com, Inc. Business Resources, Woman’s Day, First for Women, and many others. Her web site is www.gwenmoran.com.