LEWISTON – Unlike death or taxes, there is one lesser discussed certainty in life; football players falling in love with the game on their middle school field.
The sentiment, shared by many, is head coach Mike Leach’s most recent addition to the long running list reasons he likes Fall Camp in Lewiston.
“Its a great time for our squad,” Leach said. “People get to know one another and we get to do a lot of work without distractions.”
While minimizing the outside noise had been the go-to answer for years, a byproduct of the quaint setting seems to be manifesting itself in tight-knit bonds within the team.
“The coaches pick our roommates and try to put us with guys outside our position groups. Guys we don’t usually talk to that much,” Will Rodgers III said. “We’re kind of removed from the things that we know. We’re all on the campus together with no TV’s or Xbox. It forces us to be together.”
Players stay at in the dorms of nearby Lewis-Clark State College, and to no ones surprise, they have just about the entire campus to themselves amid the summer session.
“That’s my guy!” Easop Winston Jr. said of his new roommate Rodgers. “I think it’s good to have chemistry and a relationship with everyone on the team.”
Helping build those bonds beyond roommates lies underneath the mundane day-to-day tasks one might not even notice. The bus ride over and back, eating every meal together, and countless Ping Pong tournaments in the game room. Its all scripted – and at the same time not – to foster the growth of relationships.
There’s no substitute for off-field friendship and on-field chemistry, the lethal combination Lewiston builds toward. And while not everyone is sold on crossing the state line, offensive lineman coach Mason Miller wants no part in that discussion.
“This is the greatest day of my life,” Miller said. “It’s like Groundhog Day. You walk to one place, then you eat, go to the meeting room, circle back around, and go to sleep. It’s awesome.”
Realistically, the question isn’t ‘why Lewiston,’ but rather ‘why not Lewiston?’
Because chances are these boys all took a yellow school bus to a sunburnt middle school field, strapped on pads – possibly for the first time – and learned a simple game. A game that today, in their shoes, isn’t so simple anymore but they cherish just the same.
Washington State football makes the trip to connect Lehi, Utah with Arlington, Washington and Hutto, Texas with Bend, Oregon. They make the trip to remind the roster exactly where and why they fell in love with 100 imperfectly dashed hash marks. But chief among them, WSU makes the trip to show what connects all characters involved for the upcoming 2019 saga.
Death, taxes, and a middle school field.
(Top photo: Andrew Baertlein – Cougar Sports Network)