A mere 10 years ago, double-alumnus Cole Way (BA ’17, JD ’21) was a collegiate football player recruited to play professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals. Today, he is a prosecutor in Rogers County, Oklahoma, married to the woman of his dreams – speech-language pathology alumna Kasee Way (BS ’15) – and proud father of their two kids.
How could such a fairytale unfold except with a twist?
In this case, the story involves a literal twist. Way was recruited to TU in 2010 from Union High in Tulsa, where his teams won state championships in both baseball and football. At TU between 2011 and 2013, he was the starting punter and kickoff specialist for the Golden Hurricane. Then, in his senior year, Cole threw a bullpen for the Kansas City Royals, and they invited him, alongside college All-Americans, to Kauffman Stadium for a pre-draft workout. “Long story short,” Way recalled, “Kansas City drafted me in the 2014 MLB draft.”
A year later, however, Cole sprained his elbow and, after three years of working with the team, never recovered to the same level. “That twist may have saved my career, or at least made it,” Way joked.
A time to reflect and plan
Way’s period of recuperation gave him time to reflect on what he wanted to do with his life. His mind returned to his almost-complete education at TU, where his communication major and history minor had enabled him to combine a love of speaking publicly with a passion for writing and the historical record. Way credits much of his learning and growth to the faculty of the Department of Media Studies (then called Communication). Referring to professors Mark Brewin and Ben Peters, he noted that “taking their courses really inspired me to combine my two career interests in communications and history into a legal career. Without them I would not be where I am today.”
During the same three-year recovery period, Way married his college sweetheart Kasee. Way then turned his mind to completing his degree at TU and embarking on a future legal career. “The experience of being so close to having something I thought I wanted, but not being able to get it, nudged me to reflect on what I really wanted in life,” he observed. “And, eventually, I realized I already had all the pieces I really needed right in front of me: my sweetheart, a future family and a path to a meaningful career.”
From the dugout back to the classroom
Way came back to TU, completed his Bachelor of Arts and then turned to preparing to apply to study at the TU College of Law. He found that, upon returning to college, his mind had matured and he was more focused on his studies. “Discovering that purpose really matters,” he remarked. “To all the college athletes struggling to find purpose in your schoolwork, I say: Learn from my example — you do not have to be recruited out of college to find your purpose in studying hard. Hit the books now while you have them!”
At TU Law, Way found corollaries with his athletic career. “Not unlike in the sports arena, law school is a place where a competitive nature, teamwork and the playbook can combine to bring about a public good,” Way commented. He also found new, wonderful stresses, as Kasee and he had their first child during his first year of law school and their second child in his third year. “We figured that law school was already hard,” he remarked in jest, “so Kasee and I decided we wanted to make it harder.”
The opportunity to serve others
Way notes that it was not until he undertook an externship with the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office that he found his precise career path: “I realized I could make a difference in my community by fighting for others in need. There’s no scoreboard in real life, only the opportunity to serve real people.”
In December 2021, Way graduated with a Juris Doctor from TU Law and he plans to take the Oklahoma bar exam in July. He has also accepted a position as an assistant district attorney in Rogers County. “Kasee recently co-founded a speech-contracting company called Motor Mouth with her best friend, another TU alumna,” Way noted. “Our careers are coming together and we’re excited to see where the twists and turns of life lead our little family next!”
In the end, perhaps the twist in the story of Kasee and Cole Way is not the one that ended his professional athletic career, but the twist that, by bringing them back to TU, helped him finish his education, find his career and launch a new path forward in life. Not many lawyers can claim to have played two different sports in college and the major leagues, but perhaps even fewer can say they found their way with a TU twist. Cole Way can.
Activist. Creative director. Critic. Journalist. Media scholar. Producer. Publicist. Lawyer. Teacher. Whatever your ambition, the TU Department of Media Studies will help pave the way.