Growing up, Brian Shrader’s dad was his soccer coach, Cub Scout leader, and Odyssey of the Mind coach. When Brian joined the high school band, his father, Brian Shrader, Sr., helped out with the band equipment. Now that Brian’s graduating in December, his dad’s getting involved in a big way-he’s joining his fraternity.
“It was my last request I made as a graduating senior,” said Brian, who is Interfraternity Council president and Grand Master of Kappa Sigma fraternity. “The fraternity is a big part of college for me and my dad has always supported me it so it just made sense.”
Mr. Shrader spends time with the brothers every time he visits Brian, going to South Beach, Coconut Grove, hanging out with them at bars and even helping them build a float for parades.
When Brian sent his dad an email at his home office asking Mr. Shrader to write a letter explaining why someone would want to join a fraternity, Mr. Shrader had no idea that the letter would be for himself.
“Brian called me and asked me what I thought. He was like ‘no, it’s for you,’ and I said ‘What?!,'” Mr. Shrader said.
His letter, along with letters of recommendation and a unanimous vote from all the Kappa Sigma undergraduate brothers were sent to national headquarters for approval.
Mr. Shrader will be flying down from Maryland to be initiated on Thanksgiving.
“Now I’m studying for the test and ritual because I know they’ll drill me,” Mr. Shrader said. “I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun – everything’s secret till you get there.”
For Brian, having his dad join Kappa Sigma is a way to get him involved in something that he says changed his entire college experience.
“I got more out of it than I could possibly put into it,” Brian said. “And I’ll finally be able to explain to him that it’s more than just a drinking club.”
Being part of a fraternity will be a new experience for Mr. Shrader, since he never went to college. He said that what impressed him the most about the brothers is their support of one another and how they manage to have a good time and still focus on school.
“I was not mature enough at that age. Back in the late ’70s I was a war protestor. It was confusing times,” Mr. Shrader said. “The Vietnam War had the country divided, but at the same time, if they pulled up your number, you went.”
Brian and his dad have always had an open and trusting relationship. They spend much of their time going to concerts, drinking a couple beers at a bar and occasionally smoking cigars, which is a ritual when Mr. Shrader visits Brian in Miami.
“You’d think there’d be a big generation gap, but we understand each other,” Mr. Shrader said. “Plus, I’m going to be a brother with my son.”
This summer, both will be heading to Las Vegas for Grand Conclave 2005, a two-day national meeting for all Kappa Sigma members, and then staying a couple more days to use the time as a vacation.
Natalia Maldonado can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.