OBU gains mythical “sister school”

Lia Hillman, Features Editor

First it was Chacos, then it was hammocks and now it’s Okoboji?

Many Oklahoma Baptist University students have been wearing shirts from The University of Okoboji for the past few weeks, but the trend started with sophomore Sam Tener.

“A guy from my church bought me and my friend an Okoboji shirt, and he told me how cheap the clothes were,” Tener said.

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Courtesy Photo 

Walls Bargain Center, a store in Shawnee known for selling salvaged items at discount prices, recently got a shipment of Okoboji clothing.

Emmanuel Adesokan, a sophomore, was one of those that followed Tener’s new trend.

“Me and some other [students] gradually started going to buy more of their stuff because it was so cheap,” Adesokan said.

Soon, many other began to buy Okoboji clothing.

“I think it was such a quick trend because OBU is a small school and the sweatshirts, t-shirts and zip-up jackets were relatively cheap at Walls,” senior Anderson Lopez said.

Sophomore Jacob Jolly said his girlfriend showed him and friends the Okoboji clothing.

“I think it’s popular because the story behind it is funny, the apparel is cheap and it’s also really comfortable,” Jolly said.

Then, students created Okoboji Friday where students dress up in their University of Okoboji gear.

“Okoboji Friday is just a day dedicated to representing the University of Okoboji,” junior Brooke Hurley said.

Adesokan said people began asking him what Okoboji was, especially at football practice.

“We’d just tell them it was a university for everyone,” he said.

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Pictured: Sophomores Lexie Langham and Jacob Jolly. Photo by Mikaleh Offerman / The Bison 

However, the real question still remains: What is The University of Okoboji?

“My father Herman and uncle Emil founded the University along with some friends in the 1970s,” Mark Richter said.

The university is located near Okoboji, Iowa.

“It’s a beautiful lake area,” founder Herman Richter said. “It’s a neat place to come all year-round.”

The University of Okoboji’s mascot is the Fighting Phantoms.

“We’ve been undefeated in football. We play all our games on September 31,” Herman said.

In reality, The University of Okoboji was created in 1971 as part of a clothing store located in Milford, IA.

“We started selling used parts of cars,” Herman said. “We got into selling some clothing, and it grew and it grew.”

Herman said he and his brothers thought that with the beautiful lake area, they already had the campus, the sports and the people.

“The only piece missing were the classes,” Herman said. “We’re really all about having fun.”

The community of Okoboji welcomed the idea of this university. Today, there are marathons and fundraisers.

The University of Okoboji Winter Games is also a major event.

“Next year is the 40th year of the University of Okoboji,” Herman said. “Homecoming weekend is the third Saturday of July.”

The motto of The University of Okoboji is “In God We Trust. Everyone else…Cash.”

“[The motto] is a great way to live your life,” Herman said. “’In God We Trust,’ it’s the way we grew up.”

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Students show off their Okoboji gear on Okoboji Friday. Courtesy Photo 

Herman said the University of Okoboji has been featured in many media outlets, including the “Wall Street Journal” and “The Today Show.”

“The media has been good to us,” Herman said.

“We’ve been so blessed. God’s been good to us.”

Herman also said that the University of Okoboji is a great conversation starter.

“Even if you’re at the Panama Canal, someone’s going to ask,” he said.

As far as the Okoboji trend at OBU, the Richter family is pleased.

“I worked on the designs for a lot those shirts,” Mark Richter, Herman’s son said. “It makes me very happy that people are enjoying them.”

Herman said he was thrilled that students in Oklahoma were representing Okoboji.

“We’re so excited to have a sister campus in Oklahoma,” he said. “We really hope you all can visit us soon.”

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