I grew up loving football. My Dad taught me everything he knew about football and I watched countless games with him from around the age of 9. In 1981, I made my first trek across the mountains and fell in love with WSU. The following fall I enrolled and joined the Cougar Marching Band. The 1981 season was amazing, until we found ourselves at Husky stadium on the losing end of the Apple Cup. And, as my parents reported later, there I was, on national TV, trying to play my piccolo post game crying my eyes out.
Fast forward to the 1982 season. Everything that the 1981 season had been, 1982 was not. Coming in to the Apple Cup the Cougs were 2-7-1. The fifth ranked Huskys only needed to beat the Cougs in order to go to the Rose Bowl. Some wondered why we were even going to play the game. I've read many accounts of that day, but I've never read anything about the altercation between the Cougar Marching Band and the Husky football team. Here is how I remember it.
As a member of the CMB we reported to Kimbrough early on game day, warmed up and made our way over to the stadium. We spent a couple of hours practicing with the Husky band for our joint pregame, we had lunch and reported to the driveway between Bohler Gym and the Fieldhouse about an hour before game time. We were lined up and getting ready to march into the tunnel, when I noticed our Director, Pat Root, having an animated conversation with one of the UW assistant coaches, Jim Lambright. Lots of head shaking and hand gestures, but in the end the coach, waved us into the tunnel. The Husky football team who had also witnessed the exchange stood aside and let us pass. I remember thinking how big they were.
The tunnel is pretty narrow and there is a bend in the middle so when you first go in, you can't see the field. The dance team always went in first, then the brass, drums in the middle, then woodwinds and finally the flag team. We would all march through, then around the field and line up for pregame. However, on this day, we were still in the back end of the tunnel when everything stopped. I would find out later an ambulance was blocking the entrance. So we kept marching in place, the drumbeat deafening, waiting for whatever it was to clear. We had just started moving again and had rounded the bend when I got shoved hard against the tunnel wall. The drums had stopped and pandemonium reigned in the tunnel as the Husky football team pushed, shoved and threw a bunch of mostly girls out of the way. I stood up, turned around and found myself looking at a big purple number 78. All 5 foot 5 inches and 130 pounds of me, spread my feet and glared at him, he took his taped fist, hit me on the forearm and knocked me down. I jumped up and chased him out of the tunnel, so mad I thought myself capable of kicking his butt. However, I was on band staff and realized that I needed to get everyone back in line, because as our Drum Major was yelling, we still had a show to do.
So we lined up, minus a few band members that were hurt and started to march around the end zone. The Husky football team was still on our end of the field. Coach Lambright lined his team up in the end zone, facing out. He waited until the front of the band was at about the one yard line and he sent his players crashing into the band again. This time they got the trumpets, trombones and low brass, they were mostly guys, but no match for crushing 200+ pound hulks in football gear. A huge fight developed and the band was losing. Coach Lambright took his fist and crushed the Drum Major's hat, then he tried to break a bass drum mallet over his knee (unsuccessfully), instruments were smashed and more people were hurt. Standing at the back of the band I could not believe that they were getting away with this, I looked over at our team on the east end of the field. The coaches were holding them back, they were furious. At last it ended.
We gave up on the march around the field and gathered at the 50 yard line on the press box side. An estimated $60,000 in instruments had been destroyed and a number of band members were incapable of marching. In spite of that we marched out into the USA formation, played the Star Spangled Banner with the Husky Band, formed the tunnel and played the fight song as the team rushed onto the field in their all crimson uniforms.
I really don't remember too much about the first half of the game, other than the temperature was steadily dropping, we were losing and I was in a slow burn. I do remember that our half time show was better than the Husky band and their lame circle drill. Back up in the stands, for the third quarter we scored and suddenly we were in the game. Then we were leading, All American kicker, Chuck Nelson improbably missed a field goal and with less than four minutes left in the game, we had to make our way over to the press box sideline so we could line up for postgame. I kept lagging behind because I didn't want to miss a single second of the action on the field. When I finally made it over to the sideline, the entire Husky football team was blocking my view. I laid down on my stomach kind of obscured by the edge of the Husky bench so I could see the game from between their legs and was passing updates up to my fellow band members. We were ahead by one but the Huskys were driving and we all just knew it was a matter of time before they got it in the end zone. Then the Cougs intercepted. The stadium went crazy and in my excitement I forgot where I was and jumped up on the bench so I could see better.
I'm screaming and jumping up and down and I realize my little area has gotten very quiet, I turned around and four Huskies were advancing on my position. I froze, my cheers died in my throat. I should have jumped off the bench and run, but for some stupid reason, I stayed where I was. They had almost reached me, when Chuck Nelson got between me and the four Husky players and said, "Leave her alone, they deserve to celebrate." I stayed for the remaining seconds of the game. When we won, my fellow band members jumped up with me to celebrate and to witness the celebration on the field. I watched the storming of the field and the goal posts come down from my position on the Husky bench, and the joy, pride and knowledge that justice had finally been done made me feel like I was going to burst with emotion.
People talk about what it is to be a Coug. I know. It's THAT feeling. You know when David beats Goliath, hick outsmarts city slicker or a girl who thinks she can kick a Husky football players butt after he has knocked her down twice claims a small portion of his bench and wins.
That is why the 1982 Apple Cup is my favorite memory and the reason I still hate the Huskys, except for Chuck Nelson, he missed a field goal and saved my life that day, I'll make an exception for him.
This series will continue next week with WoolyBugger's favorite WSU story.