3 April, 2012
An interview with Beta Theta Pi Philanthropy Chair Danny Chandler and fraternity members James Coatsworth and Kyle Ahrens after a few of the fraternity brothers spent some time with the teen boys in Cottage B who are receiving inpatient treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Beta Theta Pi is a unit of the Ryther League and visits frequently to help the boys expand their sense of what is possible if they work hard towards a goal…as well as play some basketball!
What did you find most interesting about your discussion with the teens?
Danny: At first, the boys were a little skeptical of us, acting as though we were completely different people than them, and as if we wouldn’t understand them. After a few questions about fraternity life and college life in general, they started to realize that we were not so different from them, and that we might have some good advice.
James: The entire group’s demeanor changed as the discussion went on. In the beginning, they were joking around, talking with each other and not paying much attention. But as the conversation continued, more and more in-depth questions arose, such as when we talked about addressing conflict in a house full of male adolescents. The boys were also very interested in college and had several good questions about higher education.
Did you feel like you could relate to them? Why or why not?
Danny: Obviously there are differences, but at the end of the day we are all teenage guys who more or less think alike and act alike in certain situations.
James: It’s honestly difficult for me to relate to guys with a tough upbringing and understand what these boys have gone through, but I still enjoyed trying to relate, and it helps me grow by learning of their experiences. At the same time, we’re all guys. We all enjoyed playing basketball. We probably eat the same food, laugh at the same stuff and idolize the same celebrities.
Kyle: I am not too much older than these guys so I can relate to them in that we all like to play sports, laugh at the same things, and can have a good time together playing basketball (which was a great time, even though we lost the game).
How did basketball go?
James: It was fun! They were competitive, and Danny told me it was the most intense Ryther game he’d ever seen. The guys wanted to beat us, and they did just that. They worked as a team better than we did.
Was there a moment that you’ll remember?
Danny: At the end of the game, I could really tell that the boys had a good time. They looked like they were happy with each other, joking around and having fun. Going into each of the small group meetings at the cottage, I really hope that the kids will have a good time and that we can make a positive impact. After the basketball game, I could see that we achieved this goal.
James: Shaking hands after the game. It showed me that the guys weren’t as tough as they tried to look. We played hard basketball for about a half hour, maybe longer, and everyone was happy for that whole time. The tension that hung in the air at the beginning was gone by the end of the game.
Kyle: Every time someone got knocked down, there was another guy there to help him up.
Contributed by Danny Chandler, James Coatsworth and Kyle Ahrens, UW Beta Theta Pi fraternity members and League members. To learn more about the Ryther League or to join, visit this page.