Taylor Cooke lives in Austin, Texas, so he is surrounded by fans of the University of Texas. Burnt orange, the color of the Texas Longhorns, is everywhere.
So it’s not surprising that Cooke, a 2004 NC State graduate, is eager to bring a little Wolfpack red to his environment. He’s doing so as the NC State Alumni Network leader for the Austin area, organizing events to watch NC State football and basketball games and, this year, a community service project tied to Wolfpack Service Day.
“I thought State was big, and it is,” Cooke says. “But the University of Texas has 50,000 to 60,000 enrolled, so they just pump them out. It’s pretty huge.”
Cooke moved to Austin in 2006 after finding a job recruiting medical sales people. He enjoyed getting together with other NC State alumni in the area to watch Wolfpack games at local bars. A few years ago, he was asked if he would take the lead in running the local network.
“It’s more fun to watch the games in groups, or packs, so to speak,” he says.
Cooke says its not unusual to get 15-20 Wolfpack alumni and friends to show up to watch a game together. Nearly 30 NC State fans got together last year to watch NC State’s basketball team take on Kansas in the Sweet 16. “We get spikes for any UNC game,” Cooke says.
Cooke is traveling back to campus this weekend to take part in the Alumni Association’s Volunteer Leadership Conference. The volunteers will hear from top university officials about ways that alumni can reconnect with NC State. They will also get pointers from Alumni Association staffers on everything from how to plan a great event to effective communications strategies. The weekend will include a tour of the College of Veterinary Medicine, dinner at the University Club and Saturday’s football game against The Citadel.
Cooke says he looks forward to swapping ideas for events with leaders from other alumni networks around the country.
“Cities that aren’t close to Raleigh probably have the same problems we do,” he says. “It can be hard to get the word out to everybody. I’m interested in ideas they’ve had for successful events.”
Besides, Cooke says, it was hard to pass up a chance to get back to NC State and away from all that burnt orange, even if only for a couple of days.
“I haven’t been back to campus in forever,” he says.