The Night I Found My Team

Husky Stadium is a special place for us, and we’re guessing a lot of our readers feel the same.  Given that this is the last year for the stadium as we know it, we thought we’d offer up some of our favorite memories that came on Montlake.  With memories, there’s always the chance that they’re only special to the people involved, but hopefully with this series you’ll see something of the importance these memories hold to us.  With a few of them, maybe you were there as well.  This week is the final week in the season so it seems that it’s a good time for another one of these, there might be more posts to come throughout the season.  Here’s the first one, written by Matthew.

**************************************************************************************************

Saturdays in the Fall have always meant a trip to Husky Stadium for the Long family.  We’ve owned season tickets for the last 17 years- those tickets have grown from 2 people from the family going, to 3, and now, to the present-day, 4.  All of those years have made Husky Stadium a bigger place to me than just somewhere where I watch football.

Growing up, baseball was my passion so Husky game were just something that happened in the Fall.  Yes, they meant something to me and, yes, I would argue with teachers, friends, and our cousin (and fellow season ticket-holder) Steve whenever they’d say that the Cougars, Ducks, or any team were better than the Huskies.  But, the Mariners were my favorite team and I didn’t know if I had time in my 13-year old life for more commitment.  On November 1st, 2003 that changed.

Back in those days, I would get up early with my dad (and most of the time my sister) and head over the mountain for the Husky game.  This certain week was different though because the Oregon-UW game was a 7 p.m. kickoff.  Night games were much more of a rarity then, so they felt a little more special.  I remember being amazed at how the field lights up at night and the air and energy around the stadium just felt different.  There’s a certain buzz in the old stadium that comes with night games and it felt even greater on this day.  That’s because the Huskies were playing the Ducks.

I’d heard my dad complaining about Duck fans all my life.  He’d tell stories to football friends about Duck fans swearing at me as I walked by in my Husky clothes when I was 6, at Husky Stadium.  I’d learned that they were generally more classless than any other fan base, and my hate towards them was starting to grow.  At this point in time, the Huskies and Ducks rivalry was very spirited on the field.  The previous season in 2002, the Huskies stomped the Ducks and then proceeded to stomp and dance all over their O.  I’m not saying it was right, but I am saying it was awesome.  Heading into this night game against the Huskies, a few Oregon players had made comments to the media about how they were ready to dance on our W.

That years Husky team was a bit of a mystery.  They played well when they wanted to, it seemed like.  They finished the season 6-6 but beat all of the Northwest teams, who were all pretty good that year.  They were led by Reggie Williams and Cody Pickett and were just a strange team.

We took our seats that night to an array of things happening.  There was a man behind us with a Duck whistle, to clearly make fun of the Duck fans in attendance.  I still don’t know why Duck fans think it’s cool or smart to use those.  In between blows into his whistle the man was chanting by himself, “Ducks suck! Ducks suck!”  It was incredibly persistent and mainly just impressive.  If it was against any other team maybe it would have been annoying but, on this night, it was great.  While he was doing his thing, the students had seemed to arrive earlier than usual.  They were greeting Duck players who entered the field with a chant that included the word duck and also included a word that rhymed with duck.  Oregon fans would counter with the same chant but substituting the word ‘Huskies’ instead of the word ‘Ducks’.  Jokes on them, it doesn’t even rhyme!

The band came on the field at the usual time, 20:00 minutes before game-time.  Then, the Oregon Band came on the field to play.  I believe that their instruments made noise but I can’t actually tell you if they did.  I didn’t hear a single note they played during pre-game because of the boos coursing down from the old stadium.  It was a beautiful thing.

In the first-half, the game was close.  Oregon kept the vaunted Husky passing attack in check but the Huskies still led at halftime 14-10.  I’m not sure when it was that Cody Pickett went down, but he was injured and didn’t play most of the 2nd half.  Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came at halftime.  The Oregon band again took the field but this time wore something on their heads that resembled bike helmets.  My sister still talks about it and asks if they’ll wear them when they come to Husky Stadium.  They played music off the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, and it sounded bad, probably because it was smothered with constant boos from the student section.  It was awesome.  The Husky band chased them off the field and played a more welcomed performance.

The 2nd half began and Casey Paus was under center.  Yes, the same Casey Paus who has one of the worst all-time records for a Husky quarterback.  That game he led the Huskies to a completely dominating 2nd half.  Paus ended up being 5/8 for 62 yards.  He didn’t have to do too much because the Huskies were just physically dominating.

Towards the end of the 3rd quarter the game was decided and the sell-out crowd was just having a party.  I remember the Huskytron showing an Oregon fan with his hat covering part of his face and he was staring at the ground.  It was a thing of beauty and we all had a good laugh at it.  The aforementioned man behind us continued to serenade with the night with his whistle and chants.  I don’t remember laughing during a football game as much as that one.  It’s simple but the best word I can use to describe that night is simply ‘fun’.

When time finally ran out on the clock at the end of a cold November night, the Huskies raced to the W and barked at the Ducks as they left the field.  It was a comical end to a memorable night.

I don’t know exactly what it was about that night that has stuck with me for so long.  I certainly have seen better games in the old stadium- the Apple Cup later that year, Miami in 2000, the Arizona and USC games in ’09, and the Oregon State game last year just to name a few- but none of them have been as much fun as that one was.  Maybe it was that it was so much fun, or maybe that’s the day that the Huskies became my team.  They became more important than the Mariners, Seahawks, or even teams I played on.

As I walked out of the stadium that night, I wasn’t thinking about the freezing November air or getting home at 3 AM.  I was thinking about the next time I got to go back to Husky Stadium.  It had always been a treat to go to, but that night it became something more.  It became MY team’s stadium, and I finally realized why people called it the most beautiful stadium in the country.  Sure, it’s because it looks over the water and you can see Mt. Rainier on a clear day but it’s also because of all the beautiful memories there.  It’s an old friend that we get re-acquainted with every Autumn and it tells us about all those stirring memories while giving us new ones.  We’ll miss you old friend, see you after your makeover!

-Andrew

************************************************************************************************

As you all probably know, the Huskies end the old stadiums tenure this Saturday.  This is the good guys’ simple plea to go buy tickets to the game Saturday.  Yes, they’re expensive and that is a good excuse but if you have the money then go!  It’s going to be a memorable night regardless of what happens in the game.  The stadium should be rocking and shaking like it used to and, who knows, maybe the team will give us one more memory. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Huskies Football

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s