STILLWATER — Oklahoma State baseball coach Josh Holliday has a scar just above the left side of his upper lip.
That scar served as the basis for a large part of Holliday's speech to an estimated 1,800 students packed on the lawn of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity Tuesday evening at the OSU Alcohol Awareness Program.
Holliday, who said he did not drink alcohol during his four years as a student-athlete at OSU, was at JR Murphy's bar in Stillwater with his now-wife in the fall of 1998.
Holliday said he confronted a young man who threw an empty beer bottle across the room. He said the man then grabbed another bottle and hit Holliday across the face with it, knocking him out and leaving a huge gash across his face.
As the event's keynote speaker, Holliday also told of friends and former players who had their futures ruined by drinking and driving.
“I'm very lucky I walked away from a stupid incident and went on to do everything I wanted in life,” Holliday told the crowd.
“I tell young people all the time, whether you're drinking or not, you have to be careful. You have to keep in mind how bright your future is.”
When Holliday was asked to speak by Sigma Alpha Epsilon housing board vice president Jim Skaggs, he said he was eager to talk on a serious issue.
“Anytime someone thinks enough to ask you to talk about something as important as alcohol awareness, you want to do anything you can to help,” Holliday said before the event.
Edmond dentist Jeff Baggett and national Sigma Alpha Epsilon representative Deran Abernathy also delivered moving messages during the session.
The awareness program began eight years ago as the brainchild of Skaggs. His first keynote speaker was former basketball coach Eddie Sutton, just months after his DUI arrest and resignation from OSU.
Past speakers also include current basketball coach Travis Ford, wrestling coach John Smith, former golf coach Mike McGraw and university president Burns Hargis.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon president Grant Heckenkemper said having important school figures makes the program resonate more with students.
However, he said the most important matter is simply delivering the message of alcohol safety and responsibility.
“It's something that needs to be addressed, because if it's not, people will learn lessons the wrong way,” Heckenkemper said.