I came across this article the other day, and it got me thinking. I wondered if there was a moment when I officially became a Cougar fan. It then spilled over into trying to recall whether there was a moment when the Seahawks, Mariners, and Sonics (RIP) hooked me. It was a great trip down memory lane, filled with both joy, heartbreak and anger (hello 2002 Apple Cup). The author uses baseball as an example, but I think it can be applied to all sports. He surmises that if we develop a passion for a sports team, it happens around the time we are eight years old, and can really be aided by championships.
There are two events that stick out to me when it comes to loving the Cougars. The first occurred in 1983, when I was seven. The Cougs were opening their season against Montana State in Joe Albi Stadium. I grew up about a 15-minute walk north of Albi, and my parents were going to the game, without me. I begged, pleaded, and begged some more for them to take me, and they finally relented. That was my first experience with Cougar football, and I'll never forget it.
The second was in 1988. First was the comeback 32-31 win in the Apple Cup. After trailing 28-16 at halftime, the Cougs pulled off a great rally. Sparked by Shawn Landrum's blocked punt, the offense went 13 yards to score the winning touchdown. For the first time in my memory (since I was only five in 1981), the Cougs were going bowling. I still remember waking up Christmas morning and seeing a brand new Aloha Bowl t-shirt hanging on the mantle. The Timm Rosenbach-led Cougars beat Houston, and I was a Coug for life.
The exact moments when I became a fan of the Seattle pro sports teams are a little harder to nail down, but none involved a title, obviously. The Seahawks are at the top of the mantle along with the Cougs when it comes to my first love of sports teams. I remember them upsetting the Dolphins in the 1983 playoffs. I also remember the next week, when they lost to the Raiders. I don't remember the game as much as I remember our Raider fan neighbor using shaving cream to write the final score of the game on our screen door.
Right here is the part where I could tell the story of my mom going inside, grabbing a carton of eggs, and emptying said carton on Raider fan's house. I won't tell that story, though, since mom wouldn't like it if I told people she egged someone's house over a football game. I have no idea how I came to view football as something that was to be taken seriously. Some day I'll figure it out.
Given that, I decided to take a non-scientific poll to decipher how some of our writers came to love the Cougars. I gathered every WSU graduate who currently works as a Special Operations Liaison Officer at Al Udeid Airbase. It was a sizable group. Here is what we came up with:
Jeff Nusser: A Husky fan his whole life, Jeff planned to attend WSU as a one-man UW sleeper cell, quietly converting WSU students into Husky fans. It was going ok until he ate at Ferdinand's.
Craig Powers: Heard during elementary school that there was a magical place called Pullman, where the Busch Lite (which became his favorite beer of all time) flowed like wine. He was sold right there.
Mark Sandritter: Had never considered WSU until junior high, when his family was driving across the state. They ran out of gas 15 miles north of Pullman, and Mark had to jog into town with a gas can to save the family from being stranded for days. He was so tired from the jog that he just decided to stay.
Kyle Sherwood: Planned to go to Indiana until he found out that their football team is perennially terrible. Decided to go to a school that really excelled on the gridiron. When he couldn't find one, he ended up a Coug.
Michael Preston: Wanted to attend a school where he could graduate and immediately ascend to calling play-by-play for the football team. Figured Bob Robertson would retire long before he graduated. Figured wrong, but by then it was too late.
Andrew Crookston: Was looking for a place that made West Lafayette look tolerable. Upon arriving in Pullman, he realized that just about every other town in America makes West Lafayette look like a backwater.
Those are all the reasons we became Cougs. How about the rest of you? You don't need to be a grad to tell us how you came to love the Cougars. We'd love to hear everyone's stories.