I landed at around six-thirty eastern standard time at New York’s Laguardia Airport, the Northeast, the tri-state area,
the bad mood capital of the world, my home.  I came up the ramp with pain in my eyes from lack of sleep, soreness in
my lower back from panic induced fidgeting in my seat, tightness in my chest from all the stress, and a desire to see
my home.  My mother was at the gate, which I didn’t expect. LaGuardia normally only allows passengers down that
far.  She came up to me, hugged me, and said “I didn’t want it to be like this but I’m so glad you’re home.”  Aside from
holidays, I had been away for almost two and a half years.  She took Natasha’s cage from me and took her first look
at my feisty little pet.  We left right away as I only had two bags and out into the cold, wet, northeast February night.  
The weather fit my mood perfectly.  I told my mother as much as I could but my brain was on overload and I just
wanted sleep.  On the way over the Whitestone Bridge my body started to surrender.  I vividly remember looking up
through the window with my seat reclined and looking at the lights pass getting more and more blurry and steadily
looking warmer and warmer....
 I awoke as we turned onto the street to my parent’s home.  It wasn’t enough sleep to count as rest but still it felt
good.  When I got in, my father came down stairs and they let me know that they were leaving the next morning in
their mini-van to retrieve my belongings.  He told me that they had been bombarded by calls from the media.  
Reporters from shows like Hardcopy, Extra, and Inside Edition had harassed them relentlessly.  They were just
hanging up the phone so their efforts went for naught.  My father wanted to get some sleep, he has always gone to
bed very early, and asked me to draw out a map of the complex and do various other tasks before they left for
Oklahoma.  My mother interjected and said, “Why don’t we let him call Terry’s office first?”
 I called and left a message.  I went to get some of the dinner my mother had in the Crock-Pot but before I even got
to the counter Terry called.  He told me that the fact that I had to leave the state was a shock to the local media and
that there was a possibility that public opinion might have swayed.  He told me that Shannon and her mother gave
the following statements on TV;
 “We never meant to ruin his life.” stated Claudia Miller.
 “I should have been forceful and told him to go away, but he was always so nice to me,” followed
 At the time I was hopeful.  Maybe Shannon had a change of heart or a dose of reality and would drop the charges.  
She made a mistake; she heard of the accident and panicked.  She probably thought to herself after the collision “Oh
god, I let a maniac in my life. How could I have been so wrong about someone?” but then she thought about it and
saw what had happened and realized what a horrible thing she had done.  It wasn’t what I really thought logically, but
in hopeless times you need those straws to grasp to.
 After the call I drew out the map of the complex along with simple instructions on how to find it.  They consoled me
and assured me that they weren’t going to let anything else happen to me then went to bed.  I loaded the things my
parents would need into the mini-van as they went to sleep.  My friends called, my brothers called, I talked to all of
them and then I stretched out on the couch in front of a hockey game, or maybe it was a fight, and fell to sleep.
 I awoke at the same time as my parents, around five.  My panic was still going and I couldn’t sleep more than a few
hours.  It was the dreams.  Not the nightmares, I was getting used to those, but I kept having nice dreams of when
Shannon and I were friends.  Those bothered me more than anything and I awoke with a very empty, scared feeling
every time.  My parents left very quickly and I was alone.  Paranoia didn’t stop and rightly so.  The phone kept ringing
and I kept hanging up on reporters.  There were knocks at the door unanswered.  One thing that sticks out in my
mind is taking a shower and coming down stairs. I let the cat in and found cards from the tabloid shows stuck in the
storm door.  They were all there in only the ten or fifteen minutes it took me to shower.  No one was with me, I kept
the blinds down and the doors locked.  I couldn’t turn off the phone as my lawyer and my parents could have called
at anytime.  I tried to keep active but I mostly paced and fretted.  The only moment I had of anything like peace was
getting the two ferrets to get to know each other.  Ferrets are very playful, lovable animals and it did help for a brief
 At around four in the afternoon I saw the first of the manipulated tabloid portrayals of the story.  I was portrayed as
a violent psychopath who followed Shannon Miller out to Oklahoma and after a long period of obsessive following,
calling on the phone, and even trying to force her door open I deliberately slammed my car into her boyfriend’s truck
out of sheer jealousy!  The footage of me coming out of the county jail was slowed to deliberately make me look
ominous.  If I didn’t know who I was looking at I would’ve thought the guy was a lunatic.  For some reason even Tim
Kuykendall went on.  Why did he do that?  What did he have to gain?
 The media got worse at this point.  It was after dark and I was getting repeated knocks at the door.  I had the
driveway lights on as I had friends who were going to spend the night with me but I kept the houselights off. I could
then look out and see that it was reporters, sometimes with cameramen, outside.  Notes were being left on my door
and reporters were staying at the top of the driveway for up to an hour at a time.  I had to answer my phone in case it
was Terry or my parents and I was getting constant death threats from fans of Shannon.  Most just called and told me
I was a sick pervert or words to that effect. But some were calling, telling me my address, and then telling me what
they were going to do to me.  At that point I was just sitting on the floor in the dark waiting for my friends to arrive.
 Around eight a gray truck came down my driveway.  I opened the door slightly and called out to see who it was.  It
was a good friend of mine, Kevin.  Kevin wasn’t the type to handle the media but he has a very relaxed, lighthearted
attitude which is what I needed more than anything at the time. A short while later, more friends came I showed them
the Inside Edition piece showing me as a monster.  The reactions were all about the same, outraged, except for
Kevin who said “I never had a friend who was on TV before, that’s so cool!” and shook my hand.
 We pulled out a case of beer and I started yapping away and venting for the first time in the whole ordeal.  It was
the first time I wasn’t alone for a substantial amount of time in quite a while.  They started handling the media telling
them to go away but I still answered the phone, hanging up on who ever had no business calling me ,media and her
 I was alone, though, for the next four days until my parents got back.  In addition to the crank calls I was starting to
get calls from family friends and relatives supporting me and asking if there was anything they could do.  My brother
and his fiancée stopped by one night and went to the grocery store with me, but for the most part I was alone and
jumping anytime a car went down the street.
 My parents weren’t having the best of times either.  The trip was bad enough but when they got to my apartment
they didn’t know were to start in all the damage. They got there just in time as Angie had called me and told me that
she was going to have my car towed.  Not out of any anger or anything towards me, but as a favor.  My next door
neighbor had called her and told her that she had overheard a group from the floor above talking loudly about
trashing my car.  Angie was going to tow it for safekeeping but I told her not to worry, that my parents would be there
soon and they would take care of it.  They got there just afterwards.  Just a little after they started the cleaning the
group came back ready to start the job.  Their courage proved false when they saw the lights in my apartment on
and they recanted their earlier decision.
 They worked very hard and very fast getting things packed and the place cleaned.  As they only had the mini-van
and my tiny car to carry things they ended up having to give away most of my furniture to Good Will.  Of course, all
my perishables had to be thrown away.  They scrubbed and scrubbed and got out as quickly as possible.  They just
drove and drove until they got as far out of Oklahoma as possible.  I think they made it to the middle of Arkansas
before having to stop for the night.
 Things weren’t going well at home either. I had just gotten word that most of my family had been bothered by the
media.  Even my brother in Florida had a request for an interview.  One of my friends, who spent a lot of time on the
Internet, told me to get on the computer and check out some websites.  They were Shannon Miller message boards
and gymnastics messages boards.  On them were a good deal of threats towards me, which I didn’t care about, but
along with them someone had posted my address and phone number.  Now I knew where the phone calls were
coming from not that it made me feel better.  My friend, at least, contacted the webmasters and harassed them into
taking the posts off the boards so at least no one else got them.  The big problem with the calls was I didn’t feel that I
could call the police.  I was just waiting for someone to come and take me away and I didn’t feel I could trust them.
 The next day, Terry called and told me that things weren’t going well with the DA.  I told him right after he got me out
that I didn’t want to take this to trial, I didn’t feel like I stood a chance with an all Oklahoma jury.  He gave me an offer
that he would end this by a certain period and give a flat out fee of one-thousand dollars.  Normally, for a first time
offender in this type of case the DA will settle for a deferred sentence on a plea  of guilty or no-contest.  He explained
to me that with a deferred sentence I would get no jail time and after a year it would be off my record.  That sounded
good to me!  However, this was an election year and the case was the focus of national publicity.  Tim Kuykendall
therefore had been talking very boldly about pursuing maximum jail time for me and nothing else.
 Thanks to this stance we had to go forward with preparing for the Victim Protection Order hearing that was
scheduled for March 9.  Terry explained to me earlier that these things were given out on whim in Oklahoma and that
there was no way they wouldn’t be granted.  I didn’t want any contact with Shannon after this anyway so let them
have their little piece of paper.  Now contesting the VPO became a necessity.  Terry wasn’t going to have the
opportunity to interview either Shannon Miller or Chris Phillips before the trial so this was the only chance to get what
they were going to say.  This was somewhat of an advantage as the hearing was done under oath and it would box in
their testimony.  If they changed it it would be perjury.  The problem was money.  I had already lost most of my own
savings at this point and was looking at dipping into my college funds in order to pay my legal fees.  That was my
future, all that I had to hope for in life.  But then again, if I went to jail my future was certainly gone.
 My parents got back and I told them what had happened.  Naturally, they weren’t very happy about it but what else
could we do.  I had dinner just coming out of the oven, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, milk gravy, corn bread, and
green beans.  Which was good as they were exhausted.  They went to bed almost immediately after eating and I
started to unload and bring my belongings down to the basement.  While it was carpeted with a fireplace, we never
really used it for anything.  That was good, as there was no other place for my things.  I spent most of the night
bringing things down and setting them up.  While I did this I looked over it all and saw just how terribly Shannon had
destroyed my life.  This was all that was left and my future looked bleak.  It would be a very long time before I was self-
sufficient again much less able to return to school. A career in sports journalism after all this negative publicity was
out of the question, at least a lucrative one.  It’s not surprising that I soon ended up in therapy for depression and
post traumatic stress disorder.  At first I was prescribed Prozac for the depression but I didn’t want to take something
that drastic. Being stuck on a scheduled drug didn’t appeal to me as it would have made me feel like they had won,
that they had broken me.  I did, however, start taking Xanax for severe anxiety.  As I just took this whenever I needed
it I didn’t feel like I was surrendering.  If it wasn’t for that I don’t know what kind of shape I would be in right now.
 March 9th Terry called around five o’clock.  He had just gotten back from the hearing.  “They are going to have a
real hard time proving stalking” he said.
 “How’s that?”
 “The main point in the stalking statute is malice.  Even if they could convince a jury that you followed her all over the
country it doesn’t matter, there was no malice.  She said herself under oath that you never threatened her, she never
told you to go away and that you were never anything less than friendly with her.”
 “What about the accident and the foil?”
 “Your not charged with stalking Chris Phillips, you’re charged with stalking Shannon Miller.  All they can prove
anyway is that you hit him.  The foil was a prank directed at him not her.”
  “What about how she told the cops that I tried to force my way into her apartment?”
 “She said that what you did was rest your hand on the door while you were talking to her and that you didn’t try to
force your way in or try to keep her from closing it.”
 I’ll just add a couple of direct quotes of Shannon’s from the hearing transcript, brief ones as to save time;
 “Q  (You) Never said anything like I don’t want to be rude, but I just don’t want to talk to you?”
 “A   No, I didn’t”
 “Q   No friends of yours ever told him to leave you alone?”
 “A  No, they offered to.”
 This is on the door;
 “Q  You opened the door for him on how many occasions?
 “A  I believe two, possibly two or three times.”
 “Q  And did he ever attempt to come into your house against your will?”
 “A  He did on one occasion put his hand on the door just to kind of look in, but I had my foot on the other side of the
door so I wasn’t going to open it.”
 “Q  And he did not try to prevent you from shutting the door, right?”
 “A   No.”
 “Q  At any time?”
 “A   No”
 I don’t remember that thing about my putting my hand on her door.  As she is so tiny and I’ve still got my boxer’s
build I always made sure when I would come up to her apartment to step back after knocking to give her space so
she wouldn’t feel intimidated.  One more quote from the transcript;
 “Q  All right.  He was never less than friendly with you, am I right?”
 “A  Right.”
 Terry told me “They were trying very hard to save face.”
 There were a number of other things and I asked Terry why I was still being charge after this. “Politics,” he said,
“that’s it.”
 In a sense politics came in in another way.  Despite getting the VPO Shannon didn’t look all that good to the media
after the hearing.  The Oklahoma media still protected her but some of the truth had leaked out. Plus, Terry had
done a number on her. Shannon then appeared on Extra the next night giving them an exclusive on the horrible
crime of which she was a victim.  She did everything she could to trash me and make me look even worse. There was
nothing to gain from it except maybe some cheap publicity and she hadn’t been in the news much lately.   That
brought back a lot the pain I felt from the way she betrayed me. I had been nothing but nice to her, helped her,
looked out for her and now she’s stabbing me in the back.  Not just once, over and over and over again.  As I sat and
watched with my parents I said “Etu Shannon?”
 Out of all of this the betrayal was the worst part.  Worse than the arrest, worse than having my life torn apart, worse
than the strain.  As I said before I don’t count many of the people close to me as friends.  Trust is hard for me and I
gave it to her.  Friendship is about the most important thing for a happy life.  Families separate, parents usually die
before you and siblings spread out across the country.  Friends may change but they are always there.  Accepting
someone’s trust and friendship and then ripping it from them is about the worst thing a person can do.
 Anyway, what I saw from all this was that we had proof that either she lied to the

police or that the police lied on the reports.  She was compounding those lies on TV.  I  

spoke with Terry just afterwards
 “What you’re seeing on TV is what we can expect from the prosecution.  They’re

going to try to make you out to be this really weird guy who came out to Oklahoma just

to be near Shannon Miller and was totally obsessed with her.  Just between us though,

why did you move out to Oklahoma and is it just Shannon that you admired?”

 Whew! That’s a long story and I told it to him and now I’m going to tell you.  I grew up as a huge sports fan admiring
individuals who could put there bodies and minds through sheer hell in order to achieve their goals.  I think this
started in 1979 when I was six years old and began watching hockey.  The Edmonton Oilers had just joined the
National Hockey League off of the ashes of the defunct World Hockey Association and began drafting many young
talented players.  The attention was given, of course, to the celebrated prodigies who had been known since their
days in youth hockey such as Wayne Gretzky and Jarri Kurri.  Mixed in with these names was a gritty young player
from Alberta wearing uniform number eleven, Mark Messier.  In a full season of WHA hockey Messier had only scored
one goal but it was clear to me that there was a lot more to this player than the statistics indicated.  He played with
such passion and intensity at all times.  He made plenty of mistakes but he always put everything he had into every
game, every minute, every play.  Being lesser known, Mark was allowed to develop as a player on his own without the
scrutiny of the media as their focus was primarily on Gretzky resulting in less Messier coverage.  This fascinated me
and I started to try to learn as much as I could about this man.  I guess it was like figuring out a puzzle or trying to
solve a murder mystery before getting to the end of the book.  I ended up saving articles and magazines covering
anything on Mark Messier.  
 At the time the New York Islanders were in the midst of a four Stanley Cup dynasty and by the mid to early eighties
many of the kids in my school in White Plains, New York were wearing Islander jerseys.  Even though Messier played
for the Oilers my favorite team was the New York Rangers and I had three Rangers jerseys.  However I really wanted
one of my hero, Mark Messier.  In 1984 I received for my birthday two Oilers jerseys (home and away) bearing the
number eleven and the name Messier over it.  I wore these to school as the other kids wore their Islanders jerseys.  
That year the Oilers and the Islanders ended up against each other in the Stanley Cup finals.  The series was tied
two games to two out of a best of seven.  Game six in Edmonton the Oilers fell behind two goals to one and, despite
their firepower, the Oilers offense was being completely shut down by the Islanders with only the outstanding play of
goaltender Grant Fuhr keeping them in the game and in the series.  Late in the second period the puck was stripped
from the Islanders and Messier recovered it near the Islanders zone.  He brought it in through two defenders and
ripped a shot over the goaltender’s right shoulder, tying the game and bringing the Oilers alive.  The team was
revitalized and they won that game along with the next and the Stanley Cup with Messier winning the Conn Smythe
trophy for most valuable player in the finals. I, of course, wore my Messier jerseys to school and was virtually hated
by my classmates for it.  I was having a blast!
 The Oilers continued to win five Stanley Cups in seven years and in 1991 Mark was traded to my favorite team, the
New York Rangers, who had not won a Stanley Cup since 1940, the longest drought in the NHL. Mark’s arrival was
not only a major media event but turned out to be a major event in the history of the Rangers and also the NHL.   In
the division finals of the 1994 playoffs the Rangers were the team to beat.  They had won the President’s trophy for
best regular season record and were the favorites to win the Cup.  In the division final it took a turn for the worse as
the New Jersey Devils took commanding three-two lead in the series going back to the Devil’s home ice.  The team
was down and defeat seemed almost certain until Mark boldly proclaimed “We will win game six.”  The game started
out a nightmare for the Rangers with the Devils coming out with a quick 2-0 lead and to make matters worse they
were just completely out playing the Rangers.  Near the end of the second of three periods Mark brought the puck
into the zone, dropped the puck behind him to right wing Alexei Kovelev while taking the Devils out of synch allowing
Kovelev to rip a hard shot past goaltender Martin Brodeur.  Okay, 2-1 but the Devils still had the momentum.  Then
at with 17:12 left to go in the third Messier tied the game with a backhand shot, bringing the game back to life.  A little
later he recovered a Kovelev rebound sending the shot past Brodeur again.  For a final curtain call, with the Devil’s
goaltender taken out in place of an extra forward, Messier sent the puck down the length of the ice into the net
leaving the final score 4-2.  As defenseman Brian Leetch said afterwards “Three goals and an assist, there’s just
nothing else to say.”  To this day the memories of that game still bring up the hairs on the back of my neck.
My first love was always boxing however.  Hockey is about as fast and as exciting as a game can be, but the physical
and mental requirements for boxing are far and away the toughest for any athelete.  At the age of 11 watching the
1984 Olympics I was amazed by a 22 year old boxer in the 178 pound division from Atlanta named Evander
Holyfield.  He wasn’t one of the more celebrated amateurs.  As a matter of fact going in he was considered somewhat
of an outsider, but he was tearing through the competition with a passion that’s rare and exclusive to great
champions.  What really got me was his final bout.  Evander was leading the bout with the winner to go on to fight
Anton Josipovic of Yugoslavia for the gold medal.  The fighters were locked up close and Evander fired a hard hook
which left his opponent senseless on the mat.  However, at the exact point in which the Evander threw the hook the
Yugoslavic referee called for a break (that alone made no sense as both men were still able to throw punches) and
he immediately disqualified him.  The rule is that a fighter who has been knocked out can’t fight again for a certain
amount of time so therefore Josipic won the gold on a bye.  It doesn’t take much to see what happened considering
which country both Josipic and the referee came from.  What was amazing though was Evander’s reaction.  No
complaints, he shook the other man’s hand and took his robbery with dignity.  His display was so good that during the
medal ceremonies Josipic took Evander’s arm and brought him up from the bronze platform up to the gold with him
during his national anthem.  That had quite an effect on my eleven-year old mind and Evander took just as big a
place in my sports memorabilia as Mark Messier.
 I followed Evander’s career as well as I could.  Like Messier, I collected all the articles and magazines I could find.
Along with this also came my first VCR and I quickly amassed a collection of fights and playoff hockey games.  At this
point I have all but two of Evander’s fights (many of the earlier ones I’ve gotten from collectors) but I believe the first I
recorded myself was Evander’s fifteen round war with Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the crusierweight championship.  It
was Evander’s first title fight after only eleven pro bouts and Qawi was a seasoned veteran and an absolute
monster.  Evander got the decision but the bout was so grueling that both men had to be hospitalized afterwards.  
Evander showed such guts, dedication, and will that I watched the tape over and over, driving my family nuts.  Those
characteristics would be shown throughout his career as he became only the second man in history to win the
heavyweight championship of the world three times, the first being Muhammad Ali.  Whenever I would watch Evander
fight I would get all revved up and I wouldn’t really be aware of anything other than what was on the TV screen.  One
memory I have and look back on makes me laugh.  During the first fight between Evander and Mike Tyson a
neighbor of mine knocked on my apartment door to complain about the noise I was making.  I was so excited about
the ensuing upset (the odds opened with Evander a 25-1 underdog) that I didn’t even pay attention to what he was
saying.  I just handed him a beer and brought him in to watch the fight.
 I had plenty of other athletic idols whose careers I followed and whom I had massive collections of but these were
the two biggest going into 1992 when I sat in front of the TV for the start of the Barcelona Olympics.  My biggest
interest was, of course, the boxing but I followed just about every sport going in.  I remember from watching the trials
the two athletes I was most interested in were track and field great Gail Devers and swimmer Summer Sanders.  I
hadn’t watched much gymnastics going in but I had intended on watching that thoroughly as well.  I was interested in
seeing the performance of Vitaly Scherbo after hearing of his great successes, but the athlete that really got to me
was Shannon Miller of the U.S. women’s team. I was watching as the team arrived and noticed a major difference
between her and the others.  They all had the same fake look on their faces with the usual corny, humble smile.  
Shannon, on the other hand, looked terrified surrounded by all those cameras and lights.  When asked questions the
other girls would respond with the usual stock answers while Shannon couldn’t even look at the reporter asking the
questions.  She seemed very human and I thought to myself “I hope this kid does really well.”  To my delight she did,
winning two silver and three bronze medals.  It was amazing to me when I would watch this kid that she could do such
amazing things and show so much power while being so scrawny and looking so fragile.  She was fifteen but had the
body of an eight-year old.  Her personality seemed genuine and along with her focus and determination I came to
admire the fact that it seemed that she did gymnastics for the love of the sport and not for any form of recognition.  I
had started boxing myself as a youth and was attempting at the time to develop into the fighter that I was always told I
could be but I was having a very hard time keeping up my discipline and not burn out mentally.  Watching Shannon
hit home what my problem was.  I was treating boxing like a job, I wasn’t allowing myself to enjoy it.  I changed my
attitude and the end result was amazing.  That put Shannon in with the other athletes I followed and I continued to do
so.  At that point how was I to know just how big an impact on my life Shannon Lee Miller would have?
Late in 1995 I decided it was time to go back to school.  My boxing career ended suddenly and I needed to find some
other way of making something of myself.  My skills and dedication were not in question, my left shoulder just went
out.  I could still work out but at times the shoulder would go from numb to extreme pain and I would lose any real use
of it.  It turned out I had torn my rotator cuff.  A fighter I had admired for years, welterweight and junior welterweight
champion James “Buddy” McGirt, had torn his and went from greatness to mediocrity.  I didn’t want people to say of
me “He could’ve been so good but...”  I had been working for quite a while in the pet field to support my boxing and
my ability there was amazing.  I’ve always loved animals and just seemed to have a sort of rapport with them.  Almost
everyone around me had been saying, actually almost insisting that I take that talent to veterinary school.  I had two
problems, the first being my previous time in college.  I cared more for boxing than school and my GPA wasn’t the
best.  That’s putting it mildly, I left with a 1.6 average.  All the veterinary schools I had looked into at that point
required around a 3.5 to get and I couldn’t see how I could possibly bring my GPA up that far.  I was speaking with a
veterinarian I knew on this subject and he told me of Oklahoma State University whose veterinary program only
required a 2.8 to get in.  He explained to me that while it’s easier to get in it’s harder to get through.  That didn’t
bother me, I knew from boxing that as long as I gave it everything I had I’d do well.  What was bothering me was my
previous performances in Math classes.  I guess I had kind of a math-phobia in high school and never took the level
of classes I should have.  I not only never learned it but also I didn’t know for sure if that phobia was from the fact that
I just didn’t like math or that I was just flat out no good at it.  I knew I would need some remedial classes but if I had to
take too many it would take way too long due to the fact that so much math is needed in the Chemistry and Physical
Science classes I would be required to take.  I needed a back up plan just in case. I decided that if vet school wouldn’
t work out I would go into the obvious field for me, sports journalism.  
 With my focus on vet school I did as much research as I could on OSU and found to my dismay that in order to
qualify one must live in the state of Oklahoma for at least one year.  What this told me was that I needed to do my
undergraduate work out there.  That really wasn’t a big deal.  I didn’t want to study back home as there were far to
many distractions.  My style of studying is kind of unusual and I knew right off the bat that my parents would be on my
back the whole time no matter what type of grades I was producing.  They were keeping their promise that they made
to me and my three brothers in that they would pay for our schooling at anytime.  They had put a substantial amount
of money aside for my tuition so I didn’t feel it my place to argue with them over any criticism.  Being far away from
home would solve that problem.  The other distraction was my choice of friends at the time.  Most of them were good
people, it’s just they were all serious partiers and had no problems with staying out until last call at the bars and then
going to work at five in the morning. They also had no problems with forcing their beliefs on others!  When I was
boxing this wasn’t a problem as they all respected what I was doing. When you get down to it it gave me a special
place among them.  However, I didn’t think they would give the same kind of respect to my going to school.  As my
family moved constantly when I was growing up I had friends of this nature all over the East Coast.  I really needed
some distance from them, so Oklahoma really sounded good. The thing that really put the icing on the cake was the
cost of living difference.  At the time the amount for out of state tuition was cheaper than in state on the East Coast.  
Not to mention the cost of food and rent was dirt cheap, comparatively speaking.  I had substantial savings and
covering my living costs seemed to be no problem at all.
 I began my planning my move fifteen hundred miles from home and then discovered that there was a bit of monkey
wrench in the works.  Transfer students to OSU are required to have a 2.5 GPA just for consideration.  I stopped and
thought for a little bit.  What could I do with this?  I needed to be in Oklahoma so I began researching other schools.  I
took out a college guide my mother had bought for my brother in 1989 and turned to the back to Oklahoma schools.  
I looked under Pre-Vet in the majors section and found one listing for a school I could get in.  It was listed as Central
State University although the name had been changed to the University of Central Oklahoma.  I contacted them and
discovered that yes indeed, they would be happy to have me but I would have to take some remedial classes.  No
problem for me! I was intending to do that anyway.  They sent me an application and a catalog and I quickly applied.  
As I was addressing the envelope I noticed the name of the town in Oklahoma were the school was located.  
“Edmond,” I thought, “How do I know Edmond?”  I thought at first that I might just be confusing Edmond with
Edmonton but still it nagged at me.  I was later on looking through some of my sports memorabilia, wondering what I
could take initially and what I would have my parents send out to me, when I saw how I knew Edmond.  “How could I
have missed that! That’s Shannon Miller’s home town!”
 I arrived in Edmond, Oklahoma in January of 1996 along with my mother to help me out.  I enrolled immediately and
then began to look for an apartment.  With the money I had saved over the years I was confident I could get by just
fine.  The big thing was to be as frugal as possible at first until I knew exactly what my monthly spending would be.  
To save money on travel expenses I deliberately looked for an apartment within walking distance of the campus and
a grocery store so I wouldn’t have to spend money on a car.  As luck would have it, the first place I looked at fit the
bill perfectly.  While fairly old, the buildings were in good condition and the elderly woman who ran the place was very
nice and went out of her way to help me.  Naturally we became friends quickly and she would, quite often, give me
rides to places out of walking distance whenever I needed it.   
 Classes started out pretty well but, as it had been a few years since I was last in a classroom, I had to take things
easy and reteach myself on how to study.  I was enrolled in a Biology class with a teacher who would turn out to be
the best I ever had.  I can’t mention his name, as Shannon’s father, Dr. Ron Miller, is not only the chairman of the
Physics department but also is on the board, which decides promotions.  It would be a real risk to my professor’s
career if I were to mention his name.  He helped me a lot.  He told us all every trick to studying and had no problem
with working with you on the side, even on other classes.  Thanks to his instruction, I ended up the semester with
three A’s and a B and made the Dean’s List.  Not something I had ever expected to do.  
 During this semester an interesting thing happened on the side.  Even though I was no longer boxing, I still
maintained my conditioning.  Part of this was my running.  I love to run and would do it all day if I could.  I was running
an eight-mile loop around the center of town and was looking for a shorter route, which I could use on alternate days
when I was running up a main road called Santa Fe.  I came along to a road called Chisolm when at the stop sign a
red and silver Saturn pulled up.  Through the window I saw the driver, it was none other than Shannon Miller herself.  
I thought, “She must live in that neighborhood.”  It was seven in the morning and I doubt she would’ve been visiting a
friend at that time.  I had seen her driving in Edmond a number of times before but never bothered figuring out were
she lived.  It just wasn’t that important, but now my curiosity had been piqued.  I knew from my classmates that Ron
Miller was her father and when I got back I took a look in the phone book and surprisingly enough there was a listing,
8 Easy Street.  I looked on my map of the town and, sure enough, Easy Street was in that neighborhood.  As I wanted
an shorter alternate route anyway I decided to take a look.  I saw the house but not Shannon.  The route felt good
and was basically what I wanted so on alternate days, I ran it.  I ran it two, sometimes three, mornings a week
switching with my eight-mile loop and on Saturdays basically running as far as I felt like, usually anywhere from twelve
to twenty miles.  
 I saw Shannon maybe a half dozen times in the year and a half I lived in Edmond.  Usually, she just drove by me but
I saw her twice in her driveway.  The first time I saw her she surprised me and turning around I sprained my... well let’
s say gluteus maximus.  I told my mom about this as well as my apartment manager.  They thought it was hysterical
even to the point were my mom asked me to include it in my letter for my family’s yearly newsletter.  I never
approached Shannon, that wasn’t my intention.  It was fun seeing her, being a fan and all, but I was out to run and I
really hate to break my stride.  I ran that route even though seven months out of that period she was away on an
exhibition tour.  The route just felt good.  
 Around this time, before the exhibition tour, Shannon had won two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and
her popularity rose dramatically.  Edmond had Shannon everywhere.  Autographed Shannon posters in store
windows, Shannon on local commercials, a big Shannon parade (which I didn’t bother going to), Shannon on the
front of the Edmond phone book, and articles on her were appearing at least once a week from then on.  My
collection of things on her had been pretty feeble up to that point comparatively speaking, but started getting some
more weight to it with the Oklahoma papers, as well as the articles my mom was sending from home.  It was getting
larger and most the articles I didn’t read right away, some I never did.  A lot more was going on in sports besides her
that caught my attention.  All Olympic sports get a lot of attention just afterwards for a period so I had a whole slew of
new athletes to follow.  My two favorite athletes had a good deal going on in their lives as well which I was paying
attention to.  Evander Holyfield had scored the upset over Mike Tyson stopping him in the eleventh round just after
getting married to his second wife Dr. Jane Epson (people who said that Evander was going to get destroyed said
was appropriate.  Shows what they know! Just kidding, you can’t call them all right.)  Mark Messier had entered what
most thought was twilight of his career but was still getting thirty-goal seasons.  During that season he had scored his
five hundredth career goal, entering an elite list of players.  He had been reunited with his former teammate in
Edmonton and good friend Wayne Gretzky for the first time since Gretz was traded to the Los Angeles Kings back in
1988.  That was also big news to Rangers fans as Gretz holds just about every scoring record out there!  
 School was my main focus of course.  I was getting excellent grades but I was having trouble with my remedial math
classes.  It was very frustrating as I had a 3.6 GPA taking some real tough classes and getting upset with myself for
the few B’s I would get.  Despite that, in the classes I was working hardest on, the math classes, I was only barely
getting the satisfactory mark needed to go on to the next one.  I couldn’t get it and it seemed to be taking too long.  
As I was struggling with my final remedial class during a summer session, just two points under passing, I made a big
decision.  It was time to go to my back up plan and change majors to sports journalism.  Despite the fact that I really
liked Oklahoma I was getting lonely.  UCO is a fine school but it’s mainly commuter students. I didn’t come to
Oklahoma for any long term friendships, I came to study, but it would be nice to maybe go down to a bar and watch
hockey or football with other people of the same interests.  Most people go there until they get their grades up to
transfer to a more prestigious school and that’s what I did.  The University of Oklahoma made perfect sense.  Anyone
who follows college sports knows that OU has a long, fine, athletic tradition.  The biggest example of that is the fact
that the only other school with more national football championships than OU is Notre Dame.  OU’s school paper,
which as a journalism major I would be working on, is one of the top four in all of the United States,  an excellent
place to harness my craft.  Norman was a more active town so I could go out here and there if I didn’t have any work
to do and I didn’t have to get too attached to anyone.  The move was only a thirty minute drive. I had bought a car a
few months earlier, and my parents were willing to come out and help me.  
 My parents came out and we found what we all knew was a temporary apartment until I could get something good.  
We moved all my things down and got set up.  I quickly found out that the place was loud, dirty, and unsafe.  A few
days after I had moved in I met the former resident who told me that she had moved out due to the fact that the place
had just been broken into. Management didn’t even repair the window that had been pried open.  I also noticed pry
marks on the front door.  I knew I had to get out as soon as possible. However, as I was looking for better
accommodations I was told by a girl who sat next to me in one of my classes of a complex called Avalon that she had
looked at but couldn’t quite afford as the rent was four hundred and fifteen a month. That is nothing on the East
coast, you can’t get a crappy studio apartment for that and I had substantial savings.  She told me it was a new
complex, very clean, geared less from students and more towards people working in the area, and very important to
me it stressed security.  It had a good alarm system, was well lit, and was routinely check by the police four or five
times a night.  I decided to take a run down to the complex that night to take a look.  When I got there I ran through
the parking lot and through the front windows I saw families sitting down to dinner.  The grounds were nice and well
cared for.
  The next morning I went down and talked to the manager who showed me the last one-bedroom apartment left.  
Being the son of a landlord I knew what to look for and I couldn’t find any flaws. The place was very well maintained,
clean, and quiet.  I really liked seeing the alarm on the wall next to the front door and also I had never had an
apartment with a washer and dryer.  All this for a measly four-fifteen a month?  No problem, I said to the manager
“You’ve got yourself a tenant.”
   Now, one thing I did know, and later was to be twisted to use against me, is that Shannon attended OU.  The
campus was huge so I didn’t expect to ever even see her much less get to know her.  While we were walking back to
the office I saw a small young woman with long blonde hair putting a blue bag into the back of a hunter-green
Camaro.  Much was made of a local dealer giving Shannon just such a car after the Olympics. I glanced at this young
woman and thought, “No, it can’t be.”  I looked again and thought “I will be damned, it is!”  We proceeded on down to
the office where I put down my deposit and filled out my tenant’s application.  Within a few days I was accepted and
within a week I had fully moved in.
 I moved in around mid-September and, as before, I had not approached Shannon.   We bumped into each other
outside once in a while and said “Hi” when we did just as neighbors would.    It was December and I think we said “Hi”
maybe two or three times.  I went home for the Holidays and didn’t think anything else of it
Back to homepage
Copyright 1999 Joseph Vogt