As a kid, football was absolutely everything to me. I’d think about it during class. I played it during recess. At home, I’d play among the carports in our apartment complex’s parking lot until it was dark. Then, I’d go inside and play Tecmo Bowl until bed. At night, I dreamt about football. OK, it’s time to admit it: Many nights, I even slept with my football. So when my grandpa moved to this area in 1989 and took me to my first Husky game, it was a religious experience. I went to a number of games with him in the early nineties, and it was likely that on those Husky Saturdays my choice of college was sealed.
Husky stadium sits on the shores of Lake Union, one of only three college stadiums (McLane/Neyland) to which you can take a boat to the game. The stadium looks out on Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains (which are behind me from the picture above, but @UW_Football tweets out beautiful pictures with the #greatestsetting tag).
On a crisp autumn morning, we’d drive down 17th avenue past all the fraternities and sororities, big golden leaves losing their grasp on the huge trees lining the street. After parking at the top of the campus, we’d begin our walk to the stadium through the quad, then into Red Square, with the beautifully imposing facade of Suzzalo library standing watch. On a clear day, you could see Mount Rainier peeking out above Drumheller fountain. Yep, I was destined to become a Husky. When the game finally started, the team was DOMINANT. Beno Bryant, Mario Bailey, Lincoln Kennedy. Steve Emtman, Dave Hoffman, Walter Bailey and Shane Pahukoa. A National Championship in 1991. At home, I’d pore over the program my grandpa bought me, reading every article, memorizing the roster and jersey numbers, looking up to those hulking lineman as if they were giants.
Now that I’m an adult with a career and a family, I’ve realized football isn’t everything, but it is something. There is something warm and comforting about seeing the purple and gold take the field. It just seems right to be watching the Dawgs on a Saturday, whether at home or in the stadium. Like I just belong. I could never have played a snap of college ball, yet it still feels like MY team. It seems odd to me now that these guys are just “kids.” The “giants” I worshipped when they were twice my age are now half my age. Still, I am grateful for the effort they put forth in and out of season to be the best players they can be for the university. I can’t imagine how they balance the intense demands of a top-tier football program with their studies, social lives, and sleep. They risk their health and bodies for their teammates, but also for their school and their fans. And they do it all without compensation. I thank the 2016 Husky Football team for their effort, drive and determination. They gave Husky Nation quite a ride and a lot to cheer for. They gave us some wonderful Fridays and Saturdays, and I can’t wait for September!