Actually, lets start a couple hours earlier. It was around 9:30 p.m. on Friday night. School had ended for the week and I was on my usual weekend spot, Matthew and Lisa’s couch. I had finished reading an article by Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times columnist, on how this sports weekend could be a memorable one. One of the reasons why it would be is because the Yankees were in town. By this time the Mariners were out of the playoff race but that didn’t change the fact that we needed to beat the evil empire. Matthew had run up stairs for a few minutes and I was watching the end of the game. It was all but over, the Yankees were up and the best closer of all time was in to finish off the 9th inning. He got two quick outs, just like everyone thought he would. The third out was going to be Mike Sweeney. But with that beautiful swing of his (sarcasm) Sweeney somehow smacked a double. Then Ichiro came up and hit his walk off home run. I was yelling, Lisa might have even let out a little “Whooo!” and Matthew was wondering what was going on downstairs. With the Huskies playing #3 USC tomorrow, this was the only sports miracle I expected from the weekend. But, as I went to bed that night, I couldn’t keep myself from dreaming a little bit.
This was the weekend when all my Husky hopes were going to come crashing down. After a strong showing against LSU and then finally ending a 15 game losing streak by beating Idaho, I thought the Trojans would come in to Montlake and beat us down. I know these thoughts were in Matthew’s head too. In the morning we crammed into the back seat of Danny and Jessica’s car with Katie, who I knew next to nothing about except that we had sweet, matching Jake Locker jerseys. Aside from some Sean Kingston tunes, the car ride was relatively quiet. I was nervous, as I usually am on game day, and so I was quiet. The bus ride from the Kirkland park & ride to the stadium was no different. And as we walked to the stadium, the only thing I remember saying is “If we win this game I’m going to jump into the lake.”
The pregame routine went as usual- get our seats, go to the zone, go over to Hec Ed to see the hall of fame and buy some pop and then back in time for the bands pregame show. Then the game started and to be honest, it’s all a blur. USC started out hot and then we caught back up. Danny and I were texting throughout most of the game. Going into the 4th quarter I was shocked the Huskies could win the game. Matthew and me would trade looks back and forth that said, “Is this really happening?” The texts to and from Danny stopped coming because we both knew it was time to soak this all in. I imagine you know the story. Locker takes the team on a 4 and a 1/2 minute drive to set up the Eric Folk game-winning field goal. When the clock finally showed 0:00 the party was on.
After a few seconds of not knowing how exactly how to take all of this in I booked it on to the field, leaving my sister in the dust. I ended up a few yards away from the W and started jumping up and down with thousands of fans who were already there. As I was jumping and yelling I felt a few tears in my eyes. I thought, “Andrew (I guess I talk to myself in third person), are you serious? Crying at a football game?” But then I looked around. There were 40 year-old men standing next to me wiping away tears. For the next ten minutes I wandered around by myself, trying to soak up every minute possible. I stood and watched Jake hug his dad, Nick Holt do an interview where the reporter couldn’t hear him, E.J. Savannah cry, and the older season ticket holders stand and applaud from their seats. I found Dan, Jess, and Katie and many hugs were exchanged. That night I went to one of my homes (Matthew and Lisa’s) and watched it again. I’ve watched that game-winning drive countless times but I still get goosebumps when I see all of the purple rush on to the field.
I’m not writing about this to brag about my Huskies. Heck, the rest of the season was more frustrating than anything else. I’m writing about this because it’s moments like these that make us sports fans. The week before this game had been pretty crappy (to put it bluntly). I was starting to question if I made the right choice of where to go to college. I was missing friends and family. And I’d had a bad week of classes. But in those moments that I was on the field, a week that was filled with frustration was overcome by joy. Not only had this moment taken out a bad week but it had taken out a win-less season and one of the worst eras in Husky football. Finally, after sitting through those awful Tyrone Willingham years we had a reason to celebrate. I believe that loyalty pays off. With Seattle sports, loyalty can be tested but it was all paid off that day.
As I was walking around the field that day, I found Jake Locker. I patted him on the shoulder pads and told him thank you. He probably thought that I was just saying thank you for the win, but I wasn’t. I was saying thank you for making my week better. Thank you for taking out all of the frustration Husky nation had in one day. Thank you for reminding me why I love sports.