Linfield Strong: a state of mind, faith, loyalty, friendship, compassion, empathy, support, strength…a state of love; all felt by the members of an incredibly special community.
Of course, those are mere words attempting to describe the power that has made its way through Linfield and beyond. Being Linfield Strong is so much more than those symbols typed on a computer screen; it’s being a united family that nothing can break.
“The notion of what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force is used time and time again,” said sophomore Nathan Pellatz; a member of the Linfield golf team and a Resident Advisor. “But Linfield Strong shows us what happens when an immovable object is also an unstoppable force. Nobody can touch us when we band together and stand as one.”
Parker Moore is every meaning of Linfield Strong. It takes an incredibly special human being to ignite the souls of an entire community in a way that Parker has. He is the Linfield Wildcat Family’s guardian angel; an angel who will be standing alongside every one of his teammates, as well as cheering along with every fan.
And that’s how we will remain, standing together, cheering on Coach Smith, the entire football staff and all of the young men who will be taking the field come Saturday.
“A tragedy like this, we are all just trying to get through it together, ” said Kristen Vroom, a junior on the Linfield softball team. “We are here to support friends and family, and our football team who will be carrying on into playoffs in Parker’s honor. It’s a heavy task to take on, but it’s something that the rest of the school will be here to support.”
“Here at a small D3 college, as athletes, we don’t get paid to play,” said sophomore Alexis Michael. “We play and spend countless hours training and practicing because we love the game. These athletes in the Catdome have incredible passion that is unlike anything I have ever seen.”
Michael, like Vroom, plays for the Linfield softball team. Catball and Catdome have a special bond that spreads much further than a shared coach. Coach Vaughn lends his time, expertise and passion to both the softball and football teams.
“Coach Vaughan has been a father figure and mentor to both Catball and Catdome,” said Michael. “He spends countless hours watching and reviewing film, and when you pass the HHPA, even at 12-1 AM, his lights light up his office.”
Members of the football team are often found lining the outfield of Del Smith Stadium during games. They shake the fence (adding K’s across the top for every strike pitchers dole out), climb the foul poles, join in on cheers and make up some of their own to chant.
“It’s very cool to see them support not only us but also Coach Vaughan,” agreed Vroom. “It just goes to show how close their program is, and how they support their coaches outside of football as well.”
Last spring a large majority of football players even woke up to give a send off to the softball team on their way to super regionals.
That kind of support is the perfect summation of Linfield athletics. No matter the sport, no matter the weather, no matter the location (look at the group who followed the baseball team to Appleton, Wis.) there will always be purple and red in the stands.
“Being an athlete, fan support gets your adrenaline flowing,” said senior baseball player Jackson Ruckert. “You feed off of the energy that they bring to the stadium and use it in critical situations when you may be tiring or need a clutch result.”
Along with being a member of the national championship baseball team, Ruckert also played football for the Wildcats his freshman year. Now, after using his knowledge of the incredible tradition that the program has, he is one of the loudest fans on the south end of Maxwell Field.
“We are rowdy yet respectful and knowledgeable of the game,” sad Ruckert. “But we love winning.”
“Even though we’re a small school we have a big school spirit,” said Vroom. “Our boys work so hard on the field and they deserve to have loyal fans to support them.”
Support comes from both sides of the fence that surrounds the track at the football field. Whether it’s from one of the excited fans or from one of the players wearing purple jerseys, there’s an army behind the young men representing Linfield.
“Fingers could have been pointed after getting knocked off by Willamette and they could have folded,” said Ruckert. “Instead, they were humbled, realized they weren’t their best that day and came out and absolutely hammered Pacific for the conference title.”
Although that conference title was followed by heartbreak, nothing can take away the pride that the Linfield community feels for those young men and all they’ve accomplished.
“Linfield Strong, to me, shows that not only is it a time to be strong for yourself, but that us, the Linfield community, is strong,” said Pellatz.
That community has extended in the past week. Pictures, letters, banners and condolences came from conference rivals, Linfield alumni, friends, family and everyone in between. Even a sunset up in Seattle was streaked with the reassuring colors of purple and red; proving that everyone is a Linfield Wildcat.
“We do not get through tragic events without each other,” said Ruckert. “It’s been amazing to see how everyone who has a tie to Linfield, and even those who don’t, come together and show this community support.”
This community believes in the Catdome. And there we will remain, now and forever, cheering on our boys. LINFI3LD 5TRONG.
|Photo Courtesy of Linfield Student Piikea Kailio|